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TIME AND 
WESTERN MAN 

BY 

WYNDHAM LEWIS 


BOOK ONE: 

THE REVOLUTIONARY SIMPLETON 


BASED ON THE 
CHATTO AND WINDUS 
1927 EDITION 



CONTENTS 


BOOK 1 

THE REVOLUTIONARY SIMPLETON 

PREFACE page 5 

CHAPTER 

I: Some of the meanings of romance 17 

II: The principle of advertisement and its relation to 

romance 23 

III: Romance and the moralist mind 26 

IV: The romance of action 30 

V: Art movements and the mass idea 32 

VI: The revolutionary simpleton 36 

VII: The russian ballet the most perfect expression of the 

High Bohemia 38 

VIII: 

The principle ‘revolutionary’ tendency to-day that of 
a return to earlier forms of life 42 

IX: Ezra Pound, etc. 45 

X: Tests for counterfeit in the arts 53 

XI: A brief account of the child-cult 56 

XII: ‘Time-children. Miss Gertrude Stein and Miss Anita 

Loos 58 

XIII: 

The prose-song of Gertrude Stein 63 

XIV: 

The secret of the success of Charlie Chaplin 67 

XV:A man in love with the past 69 

XVI: 

An analysis of the mind of James Joyce 74 

CONCLUSION 131 

APPENDIX 136 


BOOK 1 

THE REVOLUTIONARY SIMPLETON 


' 'It is in literature that the concrete outlook of humanity receives its expression. Accordingly it 
is to literature that we must look , particularly in its more concrete forms, namely in poetry 
and in drama, if we hope to discover the inward thoughts of a generation. ’ 

Science and the Modern World. A.N. Whitehead. 


PREFACE TO BOOK I 


T HIS essay is the first part of a longer and more comprehensive study of 
the ‘time’-notions which have now, in one form or another, gained an 
undisputed ascendancy in the intellectual world. In Book I, the time- 
mind, as I have called it, is considered in its more concrete manifestations — as 
we find it, notably, in works of fiction, poetry or painting. In Book II, the 
significance of all that type of belief and feeling which can conveniently 
be marshaled under the concept ‘Time’, is examined in detail. How the 
‘timelessness’ of einsteinian physics, and the time-obsessed flux of Bergson, 
merge in each other; and how they have conspired to produce, upon the 
innocent plane of popularization, a sort of mystical time-cult, is shown. How 
history and biography, and more particularly autobiography, are, more truly 
than anything else, the proper expression of this chronological philosophy, is 
canvassed in the literary criticism of Book I, and in the analysis of Spengler’s 
‘world-as-history’ doctrine in Book II. 

As the object of this book is ultimately to contradict, and if possible 
defeat, these particular conceptions upon the popular, the concrete, plane, 
where they present themselves, as it is, in a rather misleading form, I have 
attempted to present my argument in the plainest manner that I could. 

With this end in view I have chosen to open the discussion among books 
such as those of Proust or Joyce, which have been widely read, and which are 
popularly accessible, and in which I consider that, with a very little attention, 
the time-cult can be observed in full operation. In this way I, at the outset, 
unmask the will that is behind the Time-philosophy, by displaying it in the 
heart of the representative ferment produced by it — in the full, instinctive 
indulgence and expansion of the artistic impulse, and imposing its values 
upon the impressionable material of life. 

The main characteristic of the Time-mind from the outset has been 
a hostility to what it calls the ‘spatializing’ process of a mind not a Time- 
mind. It is this ‘spatializing’ capacity and instinct that it everywhere assails. 

In its place it would put the Time-view, the flux. It asks us to see everything 
sub specie temporis. It is the criticism of this view, the Time-view, from the 
position of the plastic or the visual intelligence, that I am submitting to the 
public in this book. 

The position from which this essay is written is outwardly a ‘narrow’ one. 
Any merit it claims it founds if anything on a certain illiberality; for it had to 
be sharp in order to penetrate, and so it had to be gathered to a single point. I 
can perhaps give you the best idea of what I think I am doing by quoting here 
a passage against myself, as it were, from Caird, about the Cynic philosophy. 

I should be sorry to give you the idea that I regard myself of his Megarian 
antagonist, Stilpo. Rather would I suggest of such people as the Cynics and 
the Megarians, with the inevitable extremism of a certain sort that would 
most likely result. Still, in giving Caird’s account of the virtues and vices 


attendant upon the Cynic revolution. I shall be furnishing you with a hint 
(against myself, as I say) that may serve to enlighten you as to my intentions, 
unless you proceed to apply it too literally. 


‘The Cynic philosophy (Caird writes) was one of those beginnings of progress 
which take the appearance of reaction. When some aspect of thought or life has been 
for a long time unduly subordinated, or has not yet been admitted to its rightful place, 
it not seldom finds expression in a representative individuality, who embodies it in 
his person, and works it out in its most exclusive and one-sided form, with an almost 
fanatical disregard of all other considerations — compensating for the general neglect of 
it by treating it as the one thing needful. Such individuals produce their effect by the 
very disgust they create among the ordinary respectable members of the community. . . . 
Their criticism of the society to which they belong, and of all its institutions and modes 
of action and thought, attracts attention by the very violence and extravagance of the 
form in which they present it. And the neglected truth or half-truth, which they thrust 
into exclusive prominence, gradually begins by their means to gain a hold of the minds 
of others, forces them to reconsider their cherished prejudices, and so leads to a real 
advance of thought. In this fashion the Cynic seems to have acted upon the ancient . . 

. world, world, as a disturbing, irritating challenge to it to vindicate itself — a challenge 
which was violently resented, but which awakened thought and in time produced a 
modification, and even a transformation of prevailing opinions.” ( The Evolution of 
Theology , etc.) 

Now I have supplied you with an analogy against myself for practical 
reasons, although it has no literal application, as I remarked above. I am 
doing a very different thing from what the Cynic was doing, and I am very 
differently placed. But certainly I am issuing a ‘challenge’ to the community 
in which I live. I am ‘criticizing all its institutions and modes of action 
and of thought.’ I ‘create disgust,’ that I have proved, ‘among the ordinary 
respectable members of the community,’ that is to say among the established 
orthodoxy of the cults of ‘primitivist’ so-called ‘revolution’: what I say is 
violently resented,’ and I very sincerely hope will ‘awaken thought.’ Finally, 
what I say is ‘one of those beginnings of progress which takes the appearance of 
reaction .’ What I have written — and I call to witness my book, The Lion and 
the Fox — should prove me exceedingly remote from what is generally termed a 
‘reactionary.’ But I am entirely sick to death, like a great host of other people, 
of many of the forms that ‘revolution’ takes, in art, in sociology, science and 
life: and I would, however modestly, hasten the day when ‘revolution’ should 
become a more rigorous business, humanely and intellectually, if undertaken 
at all, and no longer be left only in the hands of people who do nothing but 
degrade and falsify it. 

So let me return to my adumbration of this exclusive ‘one-sided’ position 
that is mine, or that will be said to be mine. I will try next to give some 
compendious idea of the manner in which I regard the claims of individuality. 
First then, although it is true that a pig would be a strange pig who dreamt 
himself a cat, or a cat that allowed the psychology of the horse to overpower 
it, and so forgot it was a cat, for this life, at least, a man still is the most 


detached and eclectic of creatures. But if his life is centred upon some deep- 
seated instinct or some faculty, he will find a natural exclusiveness necessary 
to proper functioning. For our only terra firma in a boiling and shifting world 
is, after all, our ‘self.’ That must cohere for us to be capable at all of behaving 
in any way but as mirror-images of alien realities, or as the most helpless and 
lowest organisms, as worms or as sponges. 

I have said to myself that I will fix my attention upon those things that 
have most meaning for me. All that seems to me to contradict or threaten 
those things I will do my best to modify or to defeat, and whatever I see 
that favours and agrees with those things I will support and do my best 
to strengthen. In consequence, I shall certainly be guilty of injustice, the 
heraclitean ‘injustice of the opposites.’ But how can we evade our destiny of 
being ‘an opposite,’ except by becoming some grey mixture, that is in reality 
just nothing at all? Yet this fixation shall be upon something fundamental, 
quite underneath the flux; and this will in no way prevent my vitality from 
taking at one time one form, at another another, provided, in spite of these 
occupations, on the surface, of different units of experience, the range of 
my sensibility observe the first law of being, namely to maintain its identity; 
and that the shapes it chooses for experiment shall agree with that dominant 
principle, and such shapes not be adopted without rhyme or reason, at the 
dictate of fashion or some casual interest, just because they happen to be 
there, in an eternal mongrel itch to mix, in undirected concupiscence, with 
everything that walks or crawls. 

Yet how are you going about this fixation you may ask; how will you tell 
offhand what is essential and what is not, for the composing of your definite 
pattern; and, even among essential things, how do you propose to avoid the 
contradictory factors of empirical life; since every one includes, below the 
possibility of change, dispositions that war with one another? Well, the way I 
have gone about it is generally as follows. I have allowed these contradictory 
things to struggle together, and the group that has proved the most powerful 
I have fixed upon as my most essential Me. This decision has not, naturally, 
suppressed or banished the contrary faction, almost equal in strength, indeed, 
and even sometimes in the ascendant. And I am by no means above spending 
some of my time with this domestic Adversary. All I have said to myself is that 
always, when it comes to the pinch, I will side and identify myself with the 
powerfullest Me, and in its interests I will work. And luckily in my case the 
two sides, or micro-cosmic ‘opposites,’ are so well matched that the dominant 
one is never idle or without criticism. It has had to struggle for supremacy 
first with critical principles within, and so it has practised itself for its external 
encounters. This natural matching of opposites within saves a person so 
constituted from dogmatism and conceit. If I may venture to say so, it places 
him at the centre of the balance. 

As to what this formally fixed ‘self’ is, and how to describe it, I have 
already plainly indicated how I would go about that. From the outset I gave 
away the principle of my activity, and made no disguise of its partisan, even 


its specialist, character. So my philosophic position could almost be called an 
occupational one, except that my occupation is not one that I have received 
by accident or mechanically inherited, but is one that I chose as responding 
to an exceptional instinct or bias. So as the occupation is an art, and hence 
implies a definite set of faculties and predispositions (which, out of all the 
other things that it was free to me to occupy myself with, made me adopt 
that art as my occupation), it could perhaps more exactly described as the 
expression of the instincts of a particular kind of man, rather than an artist 
among men of other occupations. What philosophy is not that? — you 
could say, however, with truth. But the definiteness of those instincts, 
those of a plastic or graphic artist, make his responses to the philosophic 
tendencies around him more pointed than if he were a scholar mainly, or 
if he approached them from some political position, or as a professional of 
philosophic thought. For at least his partisanship from the start has its plain 
label, there is no ambiguity about where he gets his beliefs from: though there 
are artists and artists, and it is certainly true that many would take opposite 
views to those of the present writer. 

But let me take an instance that will throw into more relief the rationale 
of the method I am explaining. Whatever the Marquis de Sade said about life 
or things in general, you could be in no doubt as to what his remarks would 
come back to in the end; you would know that they all would have the livery 
of the voluptuary, that they would all be hurrying on the business of some 
painful and elaborate pleasure of the senses, that they would be devising 
means to satisfy an overmastering impulse to feel acutely in the regions set 
aside for the spasms of sex. With as much definiteness as that, whatever I, for 
my part, says, can be traced back to an organ; but in my case it is the eye. It is 
in the service of the things of my vision that my ideas are mobilized. 


The significance of the concept ‘Time’ in contemporary philosophy, and 
the results of its application to all the complexity of life and artistic expression 
around us, is the main subject of this essay. But in the title, Time and Western 
Man, another notion is introduced, namely, Western Man,’ and that notion 
stands in this case simply for the environment in the midst of which we 
are scrutinizing, in Book I., the ravages of the doctrine of ‘Time.’ That 
spectacle leads us to believe that perhaps that doctrine may have a particularly 
unfortunate effect on specifically Western Civilization; though a course of it 
might equally well be found to have a devastating effect upon the remnants 
of the immemorial civilizations of the East. But what at least I think can 
be shown is that the Time-doctrine is not, emotionally and psychologically, 
essentially Western; and so the Western scientific man cannot, really, be held 
responsible for it. But on the other hand, it could have hardly seen the light 
in the native atmosphere of the indian intelligence, for instance; it is not a 
philosophy that would have had much appeal for the true heirs of upanasadic 
thought. If we must place it, it would be in the mongrel westernized- 


orientalism of alexandrian mystical doctrine that we should see it first 
flowering, its highest flight the flight of the Alone to the Alone’; via Bergson 
it has reached, philosophically, our distressed contemporary Western arena, 
contributing beyond doubt to our ever-deepening confusion of the mind. 

Western Man, as such, is of course the completest myth. The only 
question is whether we should not erect that myth into a reality, define it 
more (not historically so much as in conformity with the realities of the 
moment); and whether, in short, some such generalization would not serve 
our purposes better than the multiplicity of myths that swarm in our drifting 
chaos. Western’ does respond to something that the European is responsible 
for, for good or ill; but of course there is every sign that before long the great 
asiatic populations will have turned into Westerners’ pur sang, and the factory 
hand of Wigan and Hanchow ‘meet’ long before the Trump of Doom, in a 
way that would have been quite inconceivable to Mr. Kipling when he wrote 
his famous imperial ballad, with its mystical ‘Eastern’ and ‘Western’ duality. 
We are told for instance, that the jewish settler in Palestine is so very ‘Western’ 
that the Arab can see no traces in him of that first-cousin who left the Ancient 
East after the exploits of Titus, and indeed regards him as a complete alien. So 
‘Western’ must be a very inclusive term; and the ‘Westerner’ flirts incessantly 
with the Black Bottom of the Swanee River, with mahometanism, with the 
tobacco-coloured Samoans of Gauguin, and the Japanese of Lafcadio Hearn, 
and indeed with everything that is opposite, technically, to his own kind (so 
romantic is he), for which latter poor White trash he advertises the greatest 
contempt. So the task of fixing a ‘Western’ norm would be anything but 
an easy matter. Still, perhaps the time has arrived (so familiar are we now 
with all that is strange and different) to turn back with a thrill of novelty to 
ourselves — even that, at last! The European, or generally the Western Man, 
should almost be ripe for the novel proceeding of flirting with his own kind, 
for a change. 

‘Thought turns to hope’; or it could be said that thought was in the 
nature of a promise. But it is not with such hopes, or thoughts, that we are 
concerned here. And the ‘Western’ of our title is given no more definition 
than what naturally inheres in the something that still characterizes our 
Western environment, as opposed to others distinct in tradition and outlook. 

But there are still a few difficulties that at the start, and before any 
further progress is attempted, should be cleared up. Very reasonably it has 
been objected, upon the evidence of the first and already published part 
of this essay, that this ‘occupational’ standpoint of mine should not be a 
starting-point for criticism of things that do not fall within the sphere of 
that occupation: (very reasonably if that view of what I was doing — and 
to which perhaps first uncompleted statement gave me some colour — had 
been the correct one). It has been suggested, for instance, that as an artist 
I have tended to imply that mathematical physics should conform to the 
creative requirements of the arts in which I am exclusively interested: and 
that I should be better advised to ignore such things, and only attend to 


what happens in my own field. Now that I should be delighted to do if these 
different worlds of physics, philosophy, politics and art were (as, according to 
my view, they should be) rigidly separated. To receive blindly, or at the best 
confusedly, from regions outside his own, all kinds of notions and formulae, is 
what the ‘creative artist’ generally does. Without knowing it, he receives into 
the central tissue of his work political or scientific notion which he proceeds 
to embody, if he is a novelist, in his characters, if he is a painter, or a poet, in 
his technique or emotional material, without in the least knowing what he 
is doing or why he is doing it. But my conception of the role of the creative 
artist is not merely to be a medium for ideas supplied him wholesale from 
elsewhere, which he incarnates automatically in a technique which (alone) it 
is his business to perfect. It is equally his business to know enough the sources 
of his ideas, and ideology, to take steps to keep these ideas out, except such 
as he may require for his work. When the idea-monger comes to his door he 
should be able to tell what kind of notion he is buying, and know something 
of the process and rationale of its manufacture and distribution. But further 
than this, of course, it was as a critic, and not as a creative artist, that I was 
speaking of in the first part of this essay. And as such it was certainly my 
business to know the origins of what I was examining in the works chosen for 
discussion. 

In this part of my essay I am, however, definitely passing over into 
the metaphysical field, following the tracks of all the ideas that find their 
way into the regions of artistic creation: and my objectionable task, as a 
perhaps overconscientious critic, is to examine to the best of my ability their 
credentials. 

I do not feel at all impelled to explain myself when I am examining 
a mere philosopher: he speaks my language, usually with less skill, but 
otherwise much the same as I do. But there is a certain feature of my 
proceedings that does, I think, require elucidation, for my argument will 
run more smoothly and free of interference if I forestall possible objections. 

I refer to my dealing with the physicist, or the ideas emanating from the 
physicist. Just as the practical engineer receives from the mathematician fresh 
knowledge, theoretically arrived at, that makes him rub his mere practical 
eyes, and just as these formulae are found to work, so the equations of the 
mathematical physicist are found often to be truth-telling in the same way: 
they take their rise in response to the difficulties met with in experiment, and, 
having met that case, they are perhaps found applicable to a whole system of 
new facts. Within a few years of the arrival of Einstein upon the european 
scene, the layman, I suppose, knows more about Relativity physics than 
any layman has ever known about the newtonian cosmology, either during 
Newton’s lifetime or since. There is an enormous Relativity literature from 
which any one who cares can acquaint himself with the main bearing of these 
theories. Of course, the more ignorant people are with regard to the points 
at issue, the more likely they are to say that you must be a mathematician to 
discuss them at all. But, in point of fact, there is no more reason to-day why a 


person should refuse himself the right to use his wits, on the grounds that he 
is not a mathematician, than there was in the time of David Hume. If Hume, 
Hobbes, Berkeley or Locke, for instance, who were not mathematicians, had 
closed their minds to us, we should know far less about the world than we do 
to-day. It is a superstition to suppose that the instruments of research, as to- 
day developed, have excluded from participation in the general critical work 
of intellectual advance, the independent critical mind, for that mind is still 
the supreme instrument of research: and the history of thought amply proves 
that hat instrument is not always mathematical, any more than it is always 
artistic. The criticism of the newtonian system made by Berkeley is in fact 
one of the main bases of mathematical thought to-day; and yet the newtonian 
system is the most gigantic mathematical achievement. In spite of that, it was 
built on assumptions that Berkeley, observing it independently and not as a 
mathematician, was able to detect and, in the interests of his God, finally to 
discredit. 

These remarks are by no means preliminary to an announcement that 
it is my intention to cast my mere artist’s eye, like an impertinent bird’s, 
into the awful machinery of Relativity, and with an inspiration transcending 
disabilities of any description, pluck out the heart of that arcane fastness of 
logic. No. My remarks are merely directed to clearing the field of any of the 
more troublesome lookers-on or camera-men, who would perhaps attempt to 
prevent us from questioning the Sphinx, on the ground that we were using 
words instead of other symbols. 

I have very little to do with Relativity physics, however, as it happens. 

I am only concerned with their effects; and I am in that, on the principle 
indeed of all the most and I am in that, on the principle indeed of all the 
most approved and most recent scientific method, thoroughly justified. 

For it is now quite accepted that all we need deal with in anything is the 
effect — what, for instance, can be observed to come out of the atom — rather 
than what we should commonly describe as the ‘cause’ of the disturbance. 

We are authorized, and indeed commanded, to remain sublimely indifferent 
to what ‘causes’ what we can see and note, or indeed whether it has a ‘cause’ 
at all. God, even, from being, as common-sense saw it, a Cause, has now 
become an Effect, when he is allowed a place at all in this curious picture. 
Instead of being the Cause of Causes, he is the Effect of Effects. So all we are 
allowed or invited to do is to invent a certain number of things that give the 
‘effects’ a properly non-causative aspect. A great many effects, a whole string 
of highly characteristic disturbances, come out o/einsteinian physics, then. 

And those I am thoroughly competent to observe, and it is those with which 
I have set out to deal: the physics themselves can remain for us in the region 
at most of hypothesis, a vague something that produces, in the observable field 
of philosophy, a chain of effects, or of mysterious happenings. The cause, if a 
cause we must have, is einsteinian physics. But what they are, or if they exist 
at all, indeed, we shall be not only justified, but invited by the most approved 
scientific procedure, entirely to neglect. 


In spite of this highly fortunate disposition of the contemporary mind, 
absolving us from going inside, as it were, the ‘reactionary-mass’ or the ‘atom’ 
(or in this case the mathematical corpus producing the disturbances labelled 
‘space- time’), indeed exacting that we should remain the periphery and 
should merely jot down what happens — count, classify, describe and assess 
the effects — nevertheless a few brief remarks may be made on another aspect 
of the matter relating to the celebrated author and proximate cause of what 
we are about to observe. I have been taxed with identifying Einstein with 
Bergson, Alexander, Cassirer and the rest. This, in fact, I have not intended 
to do for Harvey, in discovering the circulation of the blood clearly could 
not be described as doing so with a view to showing us to be machines, or 
for any motives except those of pure scientific curiosity; and the physical 
investigations as to the structure of our universe which culminated in 
Einstein, were, for all any one need suppose to the contrary, as innocent 
as that (or as the formulae for constructing an improved type of bridge or 
the formularies of an actuary) of any human arriere-pensee. Nor, further, 
were they necessarily at all metaphysical in origin. ‘It is not . . . metaphysical 
concepts (which even before this had brought time and space together) but 
mathematical fact of the invariance of Maxwell’s equations and experiments 
in physics, which leads us to the new conception with its paradoxical 
consequences.’ Let us take that account of the matter; we can accept that 
without further trouble; and as the time-space or space-time solution is 
the capital one for us, in Einstein, that disposes of our wishing to associate 
Einstein with subsequent relativity-philosophy, or with the time-philosophy 
of Bergson, in any close or peculiar way: nor, if the subsequent or preceding 
philosophies are proved to possess some especial sociological or political 
colour (as Bosanquet or Benda think they have), need such impurities be 
ascribed to the mathematical physicists, of whom Einstein is the most famous. 

But having said that, and made our position clear as regards the 
great mathematical innovators who have had such a vast influence in 
all contemporary thought, and in some ways such an invigorating one, 
the following considerations should be associated with that statement. 

First it is inconceivable (fully allowing for the natural detachment from 
mundane things of the mathematical intelligence as contrasted with the 
philosophic) that the mathematician working in such imaginative material 
as physical stimulus, should not be to some extent metaphysical; or that their 
mathematical formulation of pictures of the world should not conceal, or be 
susceptible of, some metaphysical belief or meaning, of which they were quite 
conscious. It is mere superstition to suppose ‘a mathematician’ to be a sort of 
divine machine. In any reasonable, and not romantic, account of the matter, 
we must suppose the mathematical physicist not entirely unaffected by 
neighboring metaphysical thought. That Einstein, as much as Sorel or Proust, 
for instance, had not at least read the work of Bergson, and formed some 
opinion upon it, favourable or otherwise, is unlikely, to say the least. It would 
be just as unlikely as that Newton remained entirely uninfluenced by the 


english platonism by which he was surrounded. The newtonian conception of 
absolute space probably came to him while basking in the platonic airs of the 
Enchiridion of More, or the similar benignant atmospheres of Cudworth or 
Cumberland (and so, it is now believed, it would be indirectly derived from 
Philipon, an alexandrian whose importance Duhem and Wohlwill have lately 
brought to light). Is it, then, so unlikely that the time factor so powerfully 
transforming mathematical physics in our day had something to do with 
the metaphysical speculation preceding it, and all that growth of time- 
dimensional speculation with which most people are familiar: in other words, 
that time may have found its way into those systems by the same metaphysical 
road that space took to reach the mechanics of Newton? It does not seem at 
all impossible, though there is no occasion to insist upon such a possibility: 
indeed it will be one of our tasks here to make such an explanation otiose. 

If I quote a passage from Einstein’s Boswell, Moszkowski, some people 
might object that a person of such a low order of intelligence as he shows 
himself in one sense to be, deserves no notice. But it must be remembered 
that the type of criticism which these pages are designed to circumvent 
on the popular field is often of a far lower order of intelligence than that 
displayed by the man whom Einstein, after all, admitted to his intimacy. And 
at least Moszkowski, to put it no higher than that, is more intelligent than 
Spengler. In his book of gossip about his hero, Moszkowski has {chap. V) 
secured permission, on the occasion of his next visit to Einstein, to open a 
grand full-dress discussion upon ‘discovery in general.’ Eler prepares himself 
intellectually for this great occasion. ‘We are precluded from questioning 
Galileo personally about the foundations of Mechanics, or Columbus about 
the inner feelings of a navigator. . .etc., but a great discoverer lives among us, 
etc. etc.’ So he gets ready. ‘Before meeting him again I was overwhelmed with 
ideas that arose in me at the slightest echo of the word “discovery” . . . the sum 
of (man’s) discoveries. . .find their climax in the conceptions civilization and 
philosophy , just as they are partly conditioned by the philosophy of the time. 
We might be tempted to ask: which of these two precedes, which follows?’ 

He comes to the conclusion that ‘they are intimately interwoven with one 
another, and are only different aspects of one and the same process.’ In short, 
he takes quite the same view of the matter as does Spengler. 

Then he goes on: — 


It seemed to me that even at this stage of my reflections I was somewhere near 
interpreting Einstein’s intellectual achievement. For his principle of relativity is 
tantamount to a regulative world-principle that has left a mighty mark in the thought 
of our times. We have lived to see the death of absolutism; the relativity of the 
constituents of political power, and their mutability according to view-point and current 
tendencies, become manifest to us. . .The world was far enough advanced in its views 
for a final achievement of thought which would demolish the absolute also from the 
mathematico-physical aspect. This is how Einstein’s discovery appeared as inevitable. 


So there is no question about the way in which Einstein’s Boswell regards 


his master’s discoveries. He brings to them, perhaps, a peculiarly political 
eye: he sees them as a rooting out from the Cosmos, by means of a kind of 
mathematical guillotine, of the principle of the Absolute-, rather as Heine 
regarded Kant — as a God-killer (Robespierre merely killed kings, whereas 
Kant destroyed a God, in the eyes of that witty but snobbish enthusiast). 


History does not (continues Moszkowski) adapt itself to the time measures of 
politics and of journalism, and philosophies are not to be calculated in terms of days. 

The philosophy of Aristotle held sway right through the Middle Ages, and that of 
Epicurus will gain its full force only in the coming generation. But if we make our unit 
a hundred years the connexion between philosophies and great discoveries remains true. 
Whoever undertakes to explore the necessity of this connexion cannot evade the fact 
that the lines of the result had been marked out in the region of pure thought.. ..Even the 
achievement of Copernicus would follow this general rule. . .it was the last consequence 
of the belief in the Sun Myth which had never been forsaken by man in spite of 
the violent efforts of the Church and of man himself to force the geocentric view.... 
(Copernicus’) discovery was the transformation of a myth into science. 


Then he proceeds to discuss the parallel between Bergson and Planck: — 


. . .deep down in the consciousness of man there has always been an opposition to 
(the formula Natura non facit saltus), and when the French philosopher Henri Bergson 
set out to break up this line of continuity by metaphysical means in ascribing to human 
knowledge an intermittent, cinematographic character, he was proclaiming. . .what had 
lain latent in a new but as yet incomplete philosophy. Bergson made no new” discovery,” 
he felt his way intuitively into a new field of knowledge and recognized that the time 
was ripe for the real discovery. This was actually presented to us in our day by the 
eminent physicist Max Planck... in the form of his ‘Quantum Theory.’ This is not to be 
taken as meaning that a revolutionary philosophy and a triumph of scientific research 
now become coincident. ...(It) was probably not a case of the accidental coincidence of 
a new philosophical view with the results of reasoning from physical grounds, but a 
demand of time, exacting that the claims of a new principle of thought be recognized. 


A very interesting discussion ensues when he gets to Einstein’s house — or 
it would be interesting if Moszkowski expressed himself with lest bombast 
and possessed the literary skill of Johnson’s friend. Einstein appeared to 
put forth the view that the ‘discovery’ rather discovered the ‘discoverer,’ or 
condescended to pop into his head, than that the discoverer himself y etait 
pour quelque chose. 

Really Moszkowski (although possessing all the peculiarities of a born 
‘Boswell,’ perhaps of a not very high order even in his own class) is not such 
a blockhead as people would no doubt suggest, nor as his style would imply. 
What he has just said above shows that for him Relativity is not devoid of a 
political significance: and in his remarks on bergson and Planck, he describes 
Bergson as ‘intuiting’ what Planck subsequently ‘discovered,’ both impelled 
to these facts by the Zeitgeist. A few pages further on Einstein remarks: ‘the 
rally valuable factor is intuition !’ This appears to put Planck’s invention or 
‘discovery’ on the same plane as Bergson’s ‘intuition,’ only the latter was the 


first on the scene. The gist of Einstein’s part in this dialogue is that there 
are certain things existing eternally which people come upon, indifferently 
‘intuiting’ or ‘discovering’ them. Some of the ‘intuitions’ don’t come off, 
owing to the unfortunate prevalence of the negative instance, but some do, 
like Relativity, though all subject, Moszkowski energetically does not think to 
Duhem’s law of reversal, whereby any physical system can be knocked over, 
and can rely on no experiment, however ‘crucial.’ 

Both these statements of Moszkowski’s may be absurd; but they are 
made by a person not devoid of common-sense, at a time when he was in 
close association with the greatest physicist of the day, who apparently did 
not regard him as such a fool as all that. The opinion favoured here is that he 
exaggerated the political parallel between the destruction of the Absolute in 
Einstein’s physical system, and the rise of bolshevism in the political world. 

It is fantastic to suppose that such a parallel could absolutely exist — though 
people in speaking of Newton’s system are certainly in the habit of saying, for 
instance, that he conceived the sun as a monarch round whom the planets 
revolved, because in his day the political system contained a monarch at 
its centre (cf. Bertrand Russell: ‘In Newton’s theory of the solar system, 
the sun seems like a monarch whose behests the planets have to obey. In 
Einstein’s world there is more individualism and less government than in 
Newton’s’). Sorel gives an analogous account of the effect of the spectacle 
of the stability of the kingship, as illustrated supremely by the Roi Soleil. 
These parallels between a construction of the ‘pure intellect’ and a political 
system terrestrially circumscribing its author, must be admitted as real. It 
is only by fully accepting the evident fact that many men of science, or 
philosophers, are politicians, and their supposed ‘pure’ theoretic mind in 
reality merely a very practical one, working in and through ideas as it would 
otherwise and more becomingly be working in soap, hair-oil or sanitary 
appliances, or at bookmaking or stockbroking, that we can show that all 
theory and all theoretic men are not involved in those proofs and arguments. 
The historical world of Spengler or of Moszkowski is a world of the second 
rate. Is not any average volume of history a long account of the triumphs 
and disappointments of the second-rate, of kings, bootleggers, bishops and 
merchants? It is the average life of England, France and America to-day, for 
instance, only past and treated flatteringly as ‘history.’ What part does any 
truly great achievement of the mind play in those historical feuilletons? If 
Moszkowski’s reading of Relativity could be shown by some competent 
person to be true, then immediately we should know that the Relativity 
physics we have been taught to admire was not an achievement of the 
first order, and that we had been taken in, however much amused in the 
process. For such an ad hoc universe as would result from a desire to ‘banish 
absolutism,’ and impose terrestrial politics upon the stars, would indeed be 
scientifically a farce, however intelligent a one. But so many eminent men of 
science have accepted Einstein’s theory, that Moszkowski, as far as Einstein 
is concerned, must be wrong. In the case of Einstein Mr. Bertrand Russell, 


I venture to think rightly, attaches less importance to the ‘relativism’ which 
has provided the theory with its title (and it is after al the oldest feature 
of his system, relativity being a classical doctrine of idealism) than to the 
merging of Space and Time, which is the great novelty. Surely in that highly 
technical operation, one would have thought, there could be no reflection 
of political passions! With the Moszkowskis and Spenglers we reach the 
point at which the system of the mathematical physicist becomes suspect, 
in exactly the same way as for long now we have been accustomed to regard 
with suspicion the system of the philosopher. If there is something in the air 
of a time that influences even the processes of the secluded mind of the ‘pure 
mathematician,’ we should at least not turn a blind eye to it, but investigate it 
as we would anything else. There are no doubt good and bad times: in the bad 
ones these influences may be more powerful. The immense influence exerted 
on our lives by these ‘discoveries’ cannot leave us indifferent to the character 
of the instruments that are responsible for them — namely, the minds of the 
discoverers. But it is only the less fine instruments that can be influenced in 
taht way and lend colour to spenglerism, that is our argument. This essay is 
among other things the assertion of a belief in the finest type of ind, which 
lifts the creative impulse into an absolute region free of spenglerian ‘history’ 
or politics. 

As to the plan according to which I have arranged my arguments, I have 
not left a general ‘summing-up’ until the end, but attempted as I went along 
to introduce, as early as possible, and in connection with each particular 
phase of my arguments, the conclusions that must ensue from my evidence. 


CHAPTER I 

SOME OF THE MEANINGS OF ROMANCE 


A T the Conference of the Peace Society, on the eve of the Crimean War, 
John Bright reminded his audience of the title of their god, who was 
called the ‘Prince of Peace’; and he asked them: ‘Is this a reality? Or 
is your Christianity a romance? Is your profession a dream?’ Christianity has 
been, for the European, strictly speaking, a romance. Also, of course, it has 
been an exceptionally bloody one, just as his socialism, in its turn, is proving. 

Romance and reality, these are the two terms we most often employ 
to contrast what we regard as dream and truth respectively. The ‘romantic’ 
approach to a thing is the unreal approach. John Bright used the word above 
in the sense of a lie. It is not, however, the calamitous snobberies waiting on 
Romance that concern us so much here. The attitude to ‘time’ is the main 
subject of this essay, and Romance is a decisive factor in that attitude. That is 
why I am starting with a brief scrutiny of the romantic mind. 

There is nothing that has a monopoly of ‘reality,’ nor a monopoly of 
‘romance.’ Romance, even, is certainly real, existing not in the imperfect 
manner of a unicorn or of a golden mountain (though existing as highly 
mentalized fact certainly); and Reality can be, when it wishes, extremely 
romantic; if ‘romantic’ you decide shall describe that which is full of the 
pungent illusion of life, and not consider it as the description, merely, of the 
unreal and impossible glamours of some super-existence. 

That there could be anything ‘beautiful’ about machinery, or anything 
‘romantic’ about industry, was never so much as entertained by the Victorian 
mind. Wilde, I believe, was the first person to popularize the paradox 
that machinery could be beautiful. The conception of the romance of 
industry — indeed, the claim that nothing is so overwhelmingly romantic, 
looked at properly, that is from the point of view of the great monopolist, as 
is industry — marks the frontier between the Money- age in which we live, and 
the still aristocratic and feudal age that preceded it — when love and war were 
the typical ‘romances,’ what we still think of as the Romance-age proper. But 
the Money- age has created new values. It has incidentally bought the term 
Romance. 

Even such a man as Fourier at the opening of the last century, was 
attacked with the sharpest disgust at the sight of the, at the time, novel 
pretension of Commerce to be romantic. In The Art of Being Ruled! have 
quoted a very interesting passage from his writings expressing his hatred of 
what he regarded as the decay of ‘poetry,’ or its transference to such things 
at soaps and boot-polishes. I will use some of it again here, as it shows how 
a vigorous and innovating mind, on the spot, when that great ideologic 
revolution was first occurring, could review the matter : — 


The philosophers, accustomed to reverence everything which comes in the name 


and under the sanction of commerce, will consecrate their servile pens to celebrating its 
(the new order’s) praises. . .It is no longer to the Muses nor to their votaries, but to Traffic 
and its heroes that Fame now consecrates her hundred voices. . .The true grandeur of a 
nation, its only glory, according to the economists, is to sell to neighboring nations more 
cloths and calicoes than we purchase of them. . .The savants of the nineteenth century 
are those who explain to us the mysteries of the stock market. Poesy and the fine arts 
are disdained, and the Temple of Fame is open no longer except to those who tell us 
why sugars are “feeble,” why soap is “firm.” Since Philosophy has conceived a passion for 
Commerce, Polyhymnia decks the new science with flowers. The tenderest expressions 
have replaced the old language of the merchants, and it is now said, in elegant phrase, 
that “ sugars are languid “ — that is, are falling; that ‘soaps are looking up’ — that is, have 
advanced. Formerly. ..manoeuvres of monopoly. ..excited the indignation of writers; but 
now these schemes are a title to distinction, and France announces them in a Pindaric 
strain, saying: “A rapid and unexpected movement has suddenly taken place in soaps” — 
at which words we seem to see bars of soap leap from their boxes and wing their way to 
the clouds, while the speculators in soap hear their names resound through the whole 
land.... All these flowers of rhetoric contribute, doubtless, to the success of Industry, 
which has found in the support of the Philosophers the same kind of assistance they 
have extended to the people — namely, fine phrases, but no results. 


The question may have sometimes occurred to people why what goes 
on in the bed or upon the battlefield should be more ‘romantic’ than what 
happens in the bank. Romance is perhaps a word with a fatally absurdity 
inherent in it. Should we, however, transfer our term ‘romance’ to the 
exclusive use of financial enterprise, we should be tripped up by the well- 
known conservatism peculiar to language. Chivalrous love was once a strange 
newcomer; but it coined the word ‘romance’ for itself. There must have been 
a time even when war was strange, and ill-favoured. Some day, perhaps, it 
may become so again. But the word ‘romance’ is haunted for ever by those 
activities. Language has to be destroyed before you transform ideas at all 
radically. 

Sooner or later we shall have to discriminate between what is ‘romantic’ 
for a person acquainted to some extent with the reality, and what is ‘romance’ 
for a romantic, or a person who has not much grasp of present and actual 
things. The majority are ‘romantic,’ living as they do in a dream of non- 
existent things — for instance, the world of cheap art, education, and publicity, 
or else the feudal world of half their ordinary speech. 

‘Romantic’ is very generally used to describe a ‘dreamer.’ Ruskin, we 
say, was such a man, for instance. One of his main doctrines illustrates this. 

He wished all machinery to be destroyed. Aside from the question of its 
desirability, we know this to have been irrealizable. The term ‘romantic’ jumps 
on to our tongue, therefore, to describe a man capable of that aberration. 

A more sensible notion, more sweeping were it implemented, perhaps, 
but equally impracticable, would be this: Let us destroy all the drums in the 
world — kettle-drums, side-drums, tom-toms, etc. — and arrange to hang any 
man discovered making one. Even to indulge in the ‘devil’s tattoo’ would 
become a criminal offence. 

There you would have, it would be possible to contend, a tremendous 


innovation. It would banish at one stroke a great deal of gratuitous 
emotionalism. We should be well rid of that, you might believe. The time 
honoured method of calling people to battle, to rut, to religious ecstasy, to 
every known delirium, would then not exist. Yet the individual advocating 
this measure we should call ‘romantic’ — very romantic. It is not practicable. 

It is even ridiculous. It is reminiscent of the day-dream of the naif 
prohibitionist. The same applies to dreams of banishing machinery. 

In analysing ‘romance’ the first definition required, perhaps, is to this 
effect: the ‘romantic’ is the opposite of the real. Romance is a thing that is in 
some sense non-existent. For instance, ‘romance’ is the reality of yesterday, or 
of to-morrow; or it is the reality of somewhere else. 

Romance is the great traditional enemy of the Present. And the reason 
for the contemporary enmity to the mind of Greek Antiquity is because that 
mind was an ‘ahistorical’ mind — without perspective. But that ‘yesterday’ that 
was Rome, Jerusalem or Athens is a great reality. So it is not a ‘romance’ by 
any means. Similarly, if some political event of great magnitude is brewing to- 
day in Calcutta, here, to-morrow, then, because Calcutta is not here, nor the 
event to-day’s, it is not less ‘real’ for that. 

Again, sometimes dreams an be converted into realities. Your day- 
dream, supposing the requisite power is yours, may some day become a nice 
or disagreeable reality for your neighbour. His appeal to other facts, more 
reputably causal, will be useless. So much for a few of the traps that wait 
the person essaying definitions of ‘romance.’ To circumscribe with distinct 
meaning such a word as ‘romance’ is difficult. 

Ezra Pound is, from any standpoint, a good person to whom to adress 
yourself in such a difficulty. He is a poet; and he is a great authority on 
Romance. He has even been at the pains to write a book — 'I he Spirit of 
Romance — for seekers after the truth, about Romance. To this I suggest we 
turn; and we shall find the following enlightenment : — 

‘There is one sense in which the word Romance has a definite meaning 
that is, when it is applied to the languages derived from the Latin’; and 
‘Romance literature began with a Provencal “Alba,” supposedly of the 
tenth century.’ So much for the source of the term merely. As to its 
present meaning: ‘When England had a “romantic school” it was said to 
join “strangeness” with “beauty”...” But, ‘speaking generally, the spells 
or equations of “classic” art invoke the beauty of the normal and spells of 
“romantic” art are said to invoke the beauty of the unusual.’ Pound, however, 
‘fears the pigeon-hole.’ 

Generally speaking, as he says, the normal, the known and the visible, is 
what Romance is not. ‘Romance’ is what is unusual, not normal, mysterious, 
not visible, perhaps not susceptible at all of visual treatment. 

But Pound places his finger on a more important aspect of the matter 
when he writes (in the same book) : — 


It is dawn at Jerusalem while midnight hovers above the Pillars of Hercules. All 


ages are contemporaneous. It is B.C., let us say, in Morocco. The Middle Ages are 
in Russia. The future stirs already in the minds of the few. This is especially true of 
literature, where the real time is independent of the apparent. 


In the periodic images employed here, imbued with relativity sentiment, 
all ‘real time’ (which also apparently includes the future’) is somewhere 
about, within the circle. There is no real ‘future’ any more than there is a real 
‘past.’ So, according to this way of looking at the matter, the ‘timeless’ view, 
‘romance’ would consist in apparent absence, or in a seeming coyness on the 
part of time. 

Men now dead will be the playfellows of your grandchildren, says Pound, 
and many ostensibly ‘alive’ are really playing with Dante or Propertius, 
rather than with us; although Dante and Propertius, in their turn, were also 
‘elsewhere’ to a greater extent than was consistent with their temporal and 
spatial status. 

The same ‘timeless’ view is advocated by Spengler in his Decline of 
the West-, indeed he expresses that standpoint so perfectly, by means of his 
‘homology principle,’ as he calls it, that I will quote a passage which defines 
completely what we require : — 


The application of the ‘homology’ principle to historical phenomena brings with an 
entirely new connotation for the word ‘contemporary.’ I designate as contemporary two 
historical facts that occur in exactly the same — relative — positions in their respective 
Cultures... we might describe Pythagoras as the contemporary of Descartes, Archytas 
of Laplace, Archimedes of Gauss. The Ionic and Baroque, again, ran their course 
contemporaneously. Polygnotus pairs in time with Rembrandt, Polycletus with Bach.... 
Contemporary, too, are the buildings of Alexandria, of Baghdad and of Washington; 
classical coinage and our double-entry book-keeping; the first Tyrannis and the Fronde; 
Augustus and Shih-huang-ti; Hannibal and the World War. 


Without further defining my position with regard to this ‘timeless’ 
standpoint — a very common one for many years now, for Relativity fashion 
did not commence with Einstein’s General Theory — a few of its implications 
can be pointed out. The circular, periodic imagery does knock out a good deal 
the sense of the ‘future.’ For, far enough back, it is also the ‘past.’ The idea 
of periodicity so used (of a spiral formation it usually is, with repetitions on 
higher planes) leaves, no doubt, some margin and variety to play with, but 
very little. 

You have above, in the extract beginning ‘It is dawn at Jerusalem,’ 
an average example of the formula advanced on behalf of the ‘timeless’ 
standpoint. Before leaving that subject (and still in touch with the psychology 
outlined above) the following observation is of great use. The profession of 
thee ‘timeless’ doctrine, in any average person, always seems to involve this 
contradiction: that he will be much more the slave of Time than anybody not 
so fanatically indoctrinated. An obsession with the temporal scale, a feverish 
regard for the niceties of fashion, a sick anxiety directed to questions of time 
and place (that is, of fashion and of milieu), appears to be the psychological 


concomitant of the possession of a time-theory that denies time as its normal 
reality. The fashionable mind is par excellence the time-denying mind — that is 
the paradox. 

This is, however, not so strange if you examine it. The less reality you 
attach to time as a unity, the less you are able instinctively to abstract it; the 
more important concrete, individual, or personal time becomes. 

Bergsonian duree, or psychological time, is essentially the ‘time of the true 
romantic. It is the same as in disbelief of the reality of life: the more absolute 
this disbelief is, as a formulated doctrine, the more the sensation of life (which 
we all experience impartially, whatever our philosophy) will assume a unique 
importance. Or we can add a third analogy, which will further clear up this 
obscure point in contemporary psychology. The less you are able to realize 
other people, the more your particular personality will obsess you, and 
the more dependent upon its reality you will be. The more you insist on it 
with a certain frenzy. And the more ‘individualist’ you are in this sense, the 
less ‘individualist’ you will be in the ordinary political sense. You will have 
achieved a fanatical hegemony with your unique self-feeling. 

Political ‘individualism’ signifies the opposite of that. It expresses belief 
in the desirability of many individuals instead of one. Your ‘individualism’ will 
be that mad one of the ‘one and only’ self, a sort of instinctive solipsism in 
practice. It will cause you to be, therefore, the most dangerous of madmen, 
that kind that has no scruples where other people are concerned, because he 
has an imperfect belief in their existence. The rough preliminary note will, I 
hope, suffice to have made that point clearer. 

We have now surveyed some of the principal conditions of the use of 
the expression ‘romance.’ What has emerged can be summarized as follows: 
The term arose in connection with roman dialects. It took with it, from the 
start, an implication of revolutionary unorthodoxy, of opposition to tradition. 
It was the speech of ‘the people,’ or of the roman colonials or rustics, who 
preferred to express what they had to say in a ‘living,’ not a ‘dead,’ language. 
Romance started as the opponent of tradition, as represented by the classical 
tongue. 

In the modern ‘classic-romantic’ opposition, Romantic is the warm, 
popular picturesque expression, as contrasted with the formal calm of the 
Classical. There is no need to go through the usual questions of the Unities as 
opposed to disregard for classical construction. Those are the commonplaces 
of one of the oldest, and most closely canvassed, controversies in the world. 
The success of such a classification depends on your examples, largely. If 
Racine is your ‘classic,’ and Shakespeare your ‘romantic,’ then ‘romantic,’ 
in that instance, wins the day. Between Pope and Marlowe the same thing 
happens, in my opinion. There are other cases in which ‘classicism’ might 
score points. The fact is that the best West European art has never been able 
to be ‘classic,’ in the sense of achieving a great formal perfection. The nature 
of our semi-barbaric cultures has precluded that. So in that connection the 
‘romantic’ is the real thing, I believe, and not the imitation. 


If in its origin the ‘classic-romantic’ opposition possessed a political 
connotation — namely, the ‘classical’ standing for the ‘old order,’ tradition 
and authority, the ‘romantic’ for the new insurgent life of the popular 
imagination, the self-assertion of the populace; so to-day it still conforms to 
that political symbolism, the ‘classical’ is the rational, aloof and aristocratical; 
the ‘romantic’ is the popular, sensational and ‘cosmically’ confused. That is 
the permanent political reference in these terms. 

It is not in conformity with its position in this Classic- Romantic 
controversy, however, that the word ‘romantic’ is generally used. Rather it is 
in opposition to positive science — not to the great traditional opponent of 
positive science, the classical ideal — that we find it employed. This gives it a 
rather unenviable and damaging sense. It conveys a negative — what would be 
thought of as the non-modern state of mind. Used in this way, it connotes the 
following characters. We say ‘romantic’ when we wish to define something 
too emotionalized (according to our positivist standards), something opposed 
to the actual or the real: a self indulgent habit of mind or a tendency to shut 
the eyes to what is unpleasant, in favour of things arbitrarily chosen for their 
flattering pleasantness. Or else we apply it to the effects of an egoism that 
bathes in the self-feeling to the exclusion of contradictory realities, including 
the Not-self; achieving what we see to be a false unity and optimism, 
regarding all the circumstances. It was that keen awareness of the Not- 
self, and the consequent was that keen awareness of the Not-self, and the 
consequent conception of ‘righteousness,’ that Matthew Arnold pointed to (in 
his Literature and Dogma) as constituting the originality of the ancient Jewish 
people. The deep ‘mentalism’ and personal bias of such an intelligence as that 
of Proust is a ‘romantic’ diagnostic, then. Yet ‘romance,’ as the opposite of the 
matter-of-fact, and as the frame of mind proper to very young people, comes 
in for a certain popularity. It depends in what connection you are using it. 


CHAPTER II 

THE PRINCIPLE OF ADVERTISEMENT AND ITS 
RELATION TO ROMANCE 


R OMANCE, as currently used, then, denotes what is unreal or unlikely, 
or at all the events not present, in contrast to what is scientifically 
true and accessible to the senses here and now. Or it is, in its purest 
expression, what partakes of the marvelous, the extreme, the unusual. That is 
why Advertisement (in a grotesque and inflated form) is a pure expression of 
the romantic mind. Indeed, there is nothing so ‘romantic’ as Advertisement. 

Advertisement is the apotheosis of the marvelous and the unusual; 
likewise of the scientifically untrue. The spirit of advertisement and boost 
lives and has its feverish being in a world of hyperbolic suggestion; it is also 
the trance or dream-world of the hypnotist. This world of the impossible does 
not pretend even to be real or exact. The jamesian psychology — more familiar 
to most Europeans as coueism — is its theoretic expression. What you can 
make people believe to be true, is true. (The american pragmatical test of any 
theorem is What difference will its truth or falsehood make to you?) 

Advertisement also implies in a very definite sense a certain attitude to 
Time. And the attitude proper to it is closely related to the particular time- 
philosophy we were considering above; namely, that philosophy that is at 
once timeless’ in theory, and very much concerned with Time in practice. 
Both that conscious philosophy, and the instinctive attitude of the advertising 
mind towards Time, could be described as a Time-for- Time’s-sake belief. 

For both, time is a permanent fact. Time for the bergsonian relativist is 
fundamentally sensation; that is what Bergson’s duree always conceals beneath 
its pretentious metaphysic. It is the glorification of the life-of-the-moment, 
with no reference beyond itself and no absolute or universal value; only so 
much value as is conveyed in the famous proverb; Time is money. It is the 
argent comptant of literal life, in an inflexibly fluid Time. 

And the ultimate significance of the philosophy of Time-for-Time’s-sake 
(since Time is a meaningless thing in itself) is Existence-for-Existence’s-sake. 
(This difficulty of the meaninglessness of Time, which becomes especially 
acute when it is your intention to erect Time into a god, as is the case with 
Professor Alexander, is dealt with at length by that philosopher.) 

The world in which Advertisement dwells is a one-day world. It is 
necessarily a plane universe, without depth. Upon this Time lays down 
discontinuous entities, side by side; each day, each temporal entity, complete 
in itself, with no perspectives, no fundamental exterior reference at all. In this 
way the structure of human life is entirely transformed, where and in so far 
as this intensive technique gets a psychologic ascendancy. The average man is 
invited to slice his life into a series of one-day lives, regulated by the clock of 
fashion. The human being is no longer the unit, tie becomes the containing 
frame for a generation or sequence of ephemerides, roughly organized into 


what he calls his ‘personality.’ Or the highly organized human mind finds its 
natural organic unity degraded into a worm-like extension, composed of a 
segmented, equally-distributed, accentless life. Each segment, each fashion- 
day (as the day of this new creature could be called) must be organically self- 
sufficing. 

This account of th e. fashion-day of Advertisement may seem to contradict 
between the Present of the classical mind, as opposed to the perspectives of 
the romantic, the time-mind, too. This misunderstanding will already have 
been partly averted. The reader’s attention has been drawn to the paradox of 
the doctrinaire of ‘timelessness’ more obsessed by Time, and the fashion day , 
than is anybody else. For the further and complete dispersal of this possible 
difficulty, I must refer the reader to a subsequent section of my book. It can 
only finally be disposed of by a careful definition of the classical ‘Present,’ as 
opposed to the romantic ‘Present.’ 

In the world of Advertisement, Coue-fashion, everything that happens 
to-day (or everything that is being advertised here and now) is better, bigger, 
brighter, more astonishing than anything that has ever existed before. (Dr. 
Coue actually was embarked upon his teaching, so he said, by noticing, and 
responding to, an advertisement.) The psychology that is required of the 
public to absorb this belief in the marvellous one and only — monist, unique, 
superlative, exclusive — fact (immediately obliterating all other beliefs and 
shutting the mind to anything that may happen elsewhere or to-morrow) 
is a very rudimentary one indeed. The best subject for such a seance would 
be a polyp, evidently. An individual looking, with his intellect, before and 
after, seeing far too much at a time for the requirements of the advertiser 
or hypnotist, is not at all the affair of Advertisement. For the essence of the 
this living-in-the-moment and for-the-moment — of submission to a giant 
hyperbolic close-up of a moment — is, as we have indicated, to banish all 
individual continuity. You must, for a perfect response to this instantaneous 
suggestion, be the perfect sensationalist — what people picture to themselves, 
for instance, as the perfect American. Your personality must have been 
chopped won to an extremely low level of purely reactionary life. Otherwise 
you are of no use to the advertiser. If there were many like you, he would 
soon be put out of business. 

The traditional yankee method of Advertisement suggests a credulity, a 
love of sensation and an absence of background in the submissive, hypnotized 
public, that could justly claim to be unexampled, and as beating anything ever 
heard of before in recorded history. But that method is now in universal use. 

It promises monts et merveilles every instant of the day. It has battered and 
deadened every superlative so much that superlatives no longer in themselves 
convey anything. All idea of a true value — of any scale except the pragmatic 
scale of hypnotism and hoax — is banished for ever from the life of the great 
majority of people living in the heart of an advertising zone, such as any 
great modern city. They are now almost entirely incapable of anything except 
sensation; for to think is to be able to traverse the scale of values from the 


nadir to the zenith. The world of superlatives is a monotonous horizontal 
drumming on the top-note, from which an insistent, intoxicating time can be 
extracted, but nothing else. So Advertisement fulfils all the requirements of 
the general definition of ‘romance.’ 

It is not altogether without point to refer to this method to its origins 
in the competitive frenzy of finance, and of finance first become delirious 
as it saw its staggering opportunity in its operations in the New World. The 
marvellous american vitality enhanced this process, and may yet defeat it. For 
the decision, as to Europe and even the destiny of the White Race, rests with 
America, perhaps. 

Just as the individual whose conscience is clear, and whose pockets 
are full, does not experience the need to overwhelm his neighbour with 
assurances of his honesty — indeed, if his pockets are sufficiently full, does 
not care much what his neighbour thinks; so such a system as that of Coue 
is not invented for people in robust health, but for the debilitated and ailing 
members of a ruined society. The optimism-to-order of ‘Every day and in 
every respect I grow better and better’ is of the same kind as the political 
optimism-to-order- of democratic politics. 

The wholesale change-over of what was ‘public’ into what, for the 
European, was private (the conditions obtaining in aryan civilization, 
what Maine calls the ‘ancient order of the aryan world,’ from the earliest 
tribal times, as a result of the ‘individualism’ distinguishing our race), and 
vice versa, has been very much facilitated by the agency of Advertisement. 
Advertisement has functioned in the social and artistic or learned world rather 
as the engineer has in the factory. It has taught the public — as the engineer 
taught the producer — that as Advertisement-value nothing is refuse or 
waste. Indeed, the garbage is often more valuable than the commodity from 
which it proceeds. But this value is a money-value essentially, and functions 
imperfectly in its social application. 


CHAPTER III 

ROMANCE AND THE MORALIST MIND 


B ETWEEN Romance and the principle of Advertisement the liaison 
is clear enough, I hope, by now. On the other hand, for a reader 
unfamiliar with the time-philosophy of Bergson, the Relativists, 
Whitehead, Alexander and the other space-timeists, the psychology of the 
time-snob that I have outlined may be imperfectly defined; the relation 
between the advertising principle of competitive industry, and these time- 
philosophies, may still escape him. All that welter of thought and sensation 
which has recently culminated in Relativity Theory is the necessary 
background for even these preliminary remarks. 

Perhaps an equally refractory conception would be that of the affiliation 
for Romance and of Moralsin this sense, it is understood, in which we may 
decide to accept these terms. But that is the next relationship I propose to 
examine. It seems to me a very important one indeed. There is nothing at 
all abtruse, at least, about the Christian ethical code; especially that of the 
evangelical Christian, of the ‘puritan’ produced by the Reformation, and his 
descendants to-day. For its spirit and various ordinances are all to be found 
in the Old Testament. Our use of that primitive code, framed as it is for 
conditions totally different from ours, is symbolic of our incurably romantic 
outlook. 

Our civilization is much more artificial than that of Greece or Rome; 
and the main cause for that is the Christian ethic. Where Romance enters the 
sphere of morals is at the gate of sex; and nearly all the diabolism (helping 
itself to the traditional sadic and invert machinery), springing up so eagerly 
in a puritan soil, can be traced to a sex root. It is even extremely easy in the 
modern West to sexify everything, in a way that would have been impossible 
in the greek world, for instance, to see this, you only have to consider the 
fact that the Athens of Socrates was notorious, as his dialogues witness, for 
what is (for us) the most obsessing sort of sex cult. Yet it did not interfere at 
all with greek philosophy; life did not become the rival of thought, the life of 
the intellect and that of the senses co-existed harmoniously; and philosophic 
speculation, for the men who disputed with Socrates, was evidently as 
exiting as any of their other occupations. The dialogues of Plato have not an 
alexandrian effluvia of feminine scent; nor do they erect pointers on all the 
pathways of the mind, waving frantically back to the gonadal ecstasies of 
the commencement of life. They are as loftily detached from the particular 
delights in fashion with the Athenian as it is possible to be; the core of the 
mind was not invaded, or even touched, by the claims of that group of glands, 
in spite of the fact that the puppets who used to conduct the intellectual 
contests were often conventionally epicene. The psychological composition 
of the mind of such a philosopher as Socrates, or Democritus, showed no bias 
whatever such as you inevitably find in a Wilde or a Paterthat alexandrian 


enervation and softening of all the male chastity of thought. 

In modern Western democracy thought usually, even has to get started in 
a sex-centre. People are saturated with moral teaching and the artificialities of 
the legal or moralist mind to such a degree, that it is most difficult to make 
them think without first shocking them; or without, contrariwise, edifying 
them. Edification or outrage must precede thought; there is no escape 
generally from that lawthe law of sensation, of extremism and of snobbery. 

The attempt to escape will be made here. We shall aim to get behind 
morals, which is the same order of enterprise as getting behind Romance. 

And we can bear in mind, as regards the psychological aspect of our 
argument, that, generically, the romantic man is some sort of a moralist, 
simple or inverted. And he always, to that there is no exception, is an arch- 
snob. Snobbishness and the romantic disposition are commutative: to be 
‘romantic about something’ is to be ‘snobbish about something.’ Both imply 
superstitious excess, and capitulation of the reason. 

When Revolution — that is simply the will to change and to spiritual 
transformation — ceases to be itself, and passes over more and more 
completely into its mere propaganda and advertisement department, it is apt, 
in the nature of things, to settle down in the neighbourhood of sex, and to 
make the moral disease its main lever. But Revolution in Europe and America 
must in the nature of things centre around ‘sex’, owing principally to the 
over-sensitive ‘repressed’ sex-psychology of the post-Reformation man. No 
Western revolution would be complete without its strident advertisement. In 
the pagan world the facts of sex had no undue importance. That they have 
derived entirely, as we have said, from the puritan consciousness. The whole 
back of tricks of sex, simple and invert, reduces itself, on the physical side, 
to a very simple proposition. Chivalrous love, on the other hand, was a very 
abstruse and complicated religion (attached to the man-woman relationship), 
but at its intensest it ceased to be ‘sex’ altogether. It was the Christian 
counterpart of the idealistic boy-love of greek antiquity, complicated with 
mariolatry. 

But in the power of ‘sex’ as a lever in the modern european world (to 
which success of Freud is witness) you are dealing with something quite 
different from that. It is necessary, if you are you understand it, to put out 
of your head all analogies with Antiquity, or with other periods. What you 
are confronted with, always, is forbidden fruit-, that is what ‘sex’ has meant 
persistently to the post-Reformation European. The delights of sex have 
been build round for us with menacing restrictions: and a situation has 
been created which a Greek or a Roman would with great difficulty have 
understood. 

The result is that every license where ‘sex’ is concerned has been invested 
with the halo of an awful and thrilling lawlessness. If it were not for the 
superlative sweetness of lawlessness of a sex order, all lawlessness would 
lack its most exciting and hypnotic paradigm and principal advertisement. 
How this applies to-day is evident. If you are desirous of showing your 


‘revolutionary’ propensities, and it is a case of finding some law to break to 
prove your goodwill and spirit, what better law than the dear old moral law, 
always there invitingly ready and eager to be broken? So it is that ‘sex’ for the 
European is the ideal gateway to Revolution, that no one but a violent sex- 
snob can enter any more than a camel can go through the eye of a needle. 
And so it is that that will-to-change, or impulse to spiritual advance, which is 
the only sensible meaning of Revolution, is confused and defeated. 

Any sex-license at all has the revolutionary advantage of ‘lawlessness.’ 

But how much more is not this the case where some in itself insignificant 
eccentricity is in question. Blue infernal fire bursts up out of the ground, 
almost, for the superstitious puritanic mind (and in the West of Europe and 
America the evangelical, puritan spiritthe shadow of the genevan Bible is 
strong yet) at the suggestion of one or other (there are only two) of the more 
sensational first-class sex-misdemeanours. 

The levity and even lack of interest with which the Greeks usually treated 
these things is so much more healthy, it is quite evident, that it is a pity from 
any point of view that it should not be expected of a ‘broad-minded’ and 
‘modernist’ person as a sine qua non of modernity. If you believe that such 
things as revolutionary propaganda of ‘original’ vice are socially undesirable, 
then all the more should you seek to apply to them the chill of this mortal 
indifferentism. For they would certainly wither at the touch of it. 

The most unlikely and incongruous things are dragged into the 
emotionalism of ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ backed up by the sex-impulses; a host of 
militant passions are let loose on both sides; and in the ensuing tumult, the 
blood-and-thunder, brimstone and blue fire, there is nothing that cannot 
instantly be submerged once the business is started. The ‘mob of senses,’ as 
Plato called them, are let loose and our rational constructions flounder. 

So it is not sex, properly speaking and in its simple natural appeal, that is 
in question at all; it is the diabolics locked up in the edifice of ‘morals’ that is 
arch-enemy of the artist. 

There is no activity you can engage in that is not liable to be trapped, 
pushed or misled into the moralist quagmire. As to artistic work of any kind, 
once it gets involved with that machinery, for or against it, it is lost; for its 
particular values are entirely engulfed in the sea of sensation — of ‘right’ or of 
‘wrong.’ Yet the mind of the western public (and especially of the anglo-saxon 
public) works in such a way that it is very difficult to convince it that a man 
rebelling, perhaps, as a painter, against the degraded standards of the Salon 
or Academy is not proposing some insidious attack also upon the stronghold 
of orthodox sex. The ‘I told you so!’ that must have arisen when the eccentric 
Bunthorne poet, Wilde, was unexpectedly convicted of vice, must have been 
universal. Yet, of course, Wilde was an inferior artist; that may have been 
one reason that decided him to add ‘sex’ to what was deficient as ‘art’ — to 
heighten it and give it a sporting chance to set the Thames on fire. 

Where any sex-nuisance is concerned, the greek indifference is the best specific. 
For with regard with anything which is likely to obsess a society, it is of 


importance not to give it too much advertisement. These few remarks may 
make it possible to understand a little better how ‘sex’ of any sort, invert or 
direct, as an ally, must be regarded by an artist, who is not a moralist. It also 
places the romantic and snobbish in its true light, where it is engaged in the 
diabolics of ‘sex.’ And it cooperates with the most intelligent tendencies in 
modern life, those directed to the rationalization of our automatic impulses. 


CHAPTER IV 

THE ROMANCE OF ACTION 


B ESIDE Advertisement (as one of the bastards of Romance) can be set 
that instinct for the frantic and the excessive, for which it is difficult 
to find a compendious name. The prefix ‘super’ — as in superman, or 
super-Dreadnought — gives the key to the state of mind involved. It is almost 
indistinguishable from Advertisement, in many ways, as a department of 
Romance. 

Fatally and intimately connected with this is the gospel of action. This 
doctrine has, in the form of the romantic energetics of war, already made a 
living melodrama of the Western World. The last ten years of action has been 
so overcrowded with men-of- action of all dimensions, that they none of them 
have been able to act; and what has been done on this doctrinal but terribly 
real field-of-action, has brought to us our present state of inaction, in due 
course. 

But the man-of-action (low-browed, steel-jawed, flint-eyed, stone- 
hearted) has been provided (whether in mockery or not is aside from what 
we wish now to prove) with a philosophy. And it is some form of that 
Time-for-Time’s-sake philosophy we have already briefly considered. But this 
mechanical, functional creature would implicitly possess such a philosophy 
in any case; since the dream-quality of pure-action must leave him virtually 
a child, plunged from one discontinuous, self-sufficing unit of experience to 
another; always living in the moment, in moods of undiluted sensationalism; 
the ideal slave and instrument of any clever and far-seeing person — who, 
of course, is the real man-of-action; for it is never the frantic servant of this 
doctrine of action who ever does anything, at least of any use to himself. 

The super-ism, or whatever you like to call it, with which we started 
is only the most exaggerated, fanatical, and definitely religious form of the 
doctrine of action. Mussolini is, of course, the most eminent exponent of 
both. As a politician he is only concerned with the usefulness of things, and 
so he cannot be justly criticized on account of them. What may be useful in 
one connection is often not appropriate in another, however. If you applied 
the conditions and standards required for the flowering of a Jack Dempsey to 
a Beethoven, say, you would be doing what is done in a more general and less 
defined sense on all hands at this moment, as a thousand different activities 
mystically coalesce in response to the religion of merging, or mesmeric 
engulfing. 

Action (the dionysiac and dynamical) is highly specialist. But action 
is impossible without an opposite — ’it takes two to make a quarrel.’ 

The dynamical — or what Nietzsche called the dionysiac, and which he 
professed — is a relation, a something that happens, between two or more 
opposites, when they meet in their pyrrhic encounters. The intellect works 
alone. But it is precisely this solitariness of thought, this prime condition for 


intellectual success, that is threatened by mystical mass-doctrines. 


CHAPTER V 

ART MOVEMENTS AND THE MASS IDEA 


T HIS essay has been undertaken to examine the fundamental 

philosophic concept of the present age, namely, ‘Time,’ especially with 
regard to its influence upon the arts and upon the social world. Before 
coming to that eel-like concept itself, and attacking it in its home-waters 
(the philosophy of flux), it is my plan to show it powerfully operating in 
every department of ‘advanced’ — that is the only significant — contemporary 
literature. I have chosen literature rather than the static or graphic arts, 
because in the nature of things such a concept has more leverage upon 
literature than upon them. That is, indeed, an important aspect of my 
argument. Still, even in the arts of painting, sculpture, and design, it has 
exercised, usually indirectly, some influence. And they are included in my 
survey. 

A rigorous restatement is required, I have felt for some years, of the whole 
‘revolutionary’ position; nowhere more than in my peculiar province — art 
and literature. For me to undertake that statement must involve me also in 
a restatement of my personal position. This in its turn must bring me into 
conflict with the interests of several people with whose names mine has been 
fairly closely associated. 

I have recently worked out, with great care, a system. The present essay 
is its philosophic elaboration. But before coming to a detailed criticism of 
the current interpretation of the concept ‘time,’, I am dealing with some 
of the concrete appearances of this compelling concept. If it is the good 
fortune of my critical system to be adopted or used by a certain number of 
people, it should make certain intellectual abuses, humbugs, and too-easy 
sensationalisms henceforth impossible. The arguments brought forward here, 
and the questions that will be constantly raised in my paper, or elsewhere, 
will have to be met. Where they are not met adequately, or are ignored, 
there will be a standing danger-spot in the defences of whoever attempts to 
evade them. For they are not idly-held opinions; but are a critical engine 
constructed from the material of directly observed fact of the most refractory 
description, sedulously submitted to repeated tests. The use of a ‘system’ in 
the ‘systematic’ at all is much resented. But it is my claim that this one is, 
and increasingly will become, an almost fool-proof system of detection where 
contemporary counterfeit, of the ‘revolutionary’ kind, is concerned. It cannot, 
I think, be used as a destructive weapon by the irresponsible for things which 
its machinery is not intended. But on the other hand, its activity may, on 
occasion, be reversed, so that it can be made to protect those things in whose 
interests its destructive ingenuity is set in motion. 

In stepping directly into the world of art we shall fall upon a great deal of 
politics, too, as elsewhere, or the reflection of politics. To attempt to get rid 
of these politics, or shadow politics, is one of my reasons for undertaking this 


difficult analysis. 

First of all, the same emotional tension, the same spurious glamour, in 
which no one believes, but which yet arrests belief from settling anywhere — 
extracting, as it were , the automatic reaction from it, without desiring, even, 
a more conscious, or deep-seated, response ; the same straining merely to 
outwit and to capture a momentary attention, or to startle into credulity; the 
same optimistic air, or a vulgar self-congratulation; the same baldly-shining 
morning face; the same glittering or discreetly hooded eye of the fanatical 
advertiser, exists in the region of art or social life as elsewhere — only in social 
life it is their own personalities that people are advertising, while in art it is 
their own personally manufactured goods only. (In the case of the artist, his 
own personality plays the part of the refuse in the factory.) And these more 
blandly-lighted worlds are as full as the Business world, I believe fuller, of 
those people who seem especially built for such methods, so sickly does the 
glove fit. (In the case of the artist, his own personality plays the part of the 
refuse of the factory.) Yet who will say that the vulgar medium which the 
scientific salesman must use to succeed, in Western Democracy, does not, 
thrust into the social world, destroy its significance? The philosophy of ‘action’ 
of trade is as barbarous as that of war. 

But unlike social revolution, art is not dependent on fortuitous 
technical discoveries. It is a constant stronghold, rather, of the purest human 
consciousness ; as such it has nothing to ‘revolt’ against — except conditions 
where art does not exist, or where spurious and vulgar art triumphs. Modern 
industrial conditions brought about organized ‘revolutionary’ ferment in the 
political sphere. They also rapidly reduced the never-very-secure pictorial and 
plastic standards of the European to a cipher. The present ‘revolution’ in art 
is not a revolt against tradition at all. It is much more a concerted attempt, 
on a wider and subtler basis (provided by recent research and technical 
facilities), to revive a sense that had been almost totally lost, as the Salons and 
Academies witnesses. 

The only art at the present time about which there is any reason to 
employ the word ‘revolutionary,’ or that sentimentalist cliche, ‘rebel,’ is either 
inferior and stupid, or else consciously political, art. For art is, in reality, 
one of the things that Revolutions are about, and cannot therefore itself be 
Revolution. Life as interpreted by the poet or philosopher is the objective of 
Revolutions, they are the substance of its Promised Land. 

If, on the other hand, you wish to use ‘revolutionary’ in the wider and 
more intelligent sense which I generally give it here, then there is a form of 
artistic expression that has attempted something definitely new; something 
that could not have come into existence in any age but this one. Art of that 
type is confined to a very small number of workers. And it is one of the tasks I 
have set myself here, to mark this off distinctly from the much greater mass of 
work which uses a very little of that newness to flavour something otherwise 
traditional enough, and which, if properly understood, is in no sense 
revolutionary; or else which looks novel because it is attempting to get back to 


standards or forms that are very ancient, and hence strange to the European. 

London, for example, is periodically startled by some work in sculpture or 
painting which would have seemed a commonplace to Amenhotep III., or to 
a fifth-century Tartar Khan. It is probably much better than the average Royal 
Academy article; it could scarcely help being that. Yet one of the curious 
objections brought against works of that sort is that they are ‘asiatic.’ The 
trouble with them, if anything, is in reality the opposite to that — namely, that 
they are not asiatic enough. There is usually some germanic sentimentalism 
marring the conception — or some germanic brutality — which makes them 
inferior to the oriental masterpiece that has inspired them. 

The first thing that would be noticed by any one entering the art world 
for the first time would be that it was discriminated into ‘movements,’ rather 
than into individuals. It would be for the sake of le mouvement, for the 
advancement of the group,’ not of the individual artist, that this or that was 
initiated. This becomes less pronounced as the decay of art, from a material 
point of view, advances, and the disillusionment deepens; but the movement 
or group idea is sufficiently prevalent. 

The effect of that form of organization, to start with, is, inevitably, to 
advertise the inferior artist at the expense of the better. Most inferior artists 
interpret such an arrangement as a good opportunity to combine against 
any of their number who displays conspicuous ability, and fix upon him 
obligations all to his personal disadvantage. Or else the group’ is more simply 
an organization of nothing but inferior artists, directed, sometimes by means 
of specific propaganda, against the idea of individual talent altogether; the 
suggestion being that only a great many cooks can make a really good broth; 
and the mastery of each individual must be of an unnoticeable, democratic 
order. The proof of this would naturally be in the eating. But as there is no 
public for such things to-day, these theorists are quite secure: it will never be 
put to the test. 

Now no one, I suppose, will be found to contend that contemporary 
politics are not reflected in such ‘groups’ and ‘movements’ in art. We will 
assume that the resemblance is too striking to be passed over; that the ‘group,’ 
‘movement,’ phenomenon in art is, where found, a political reflection, in its 
contemporary form. 

But in art, as in anything else, all revolutionary impulse comes in the 
first place from the exceptional individual I have shown. No collectivity 
ever conceives, or, having done so, would ever be able to carry through, an 
insurrection or a freeform of any intensity, or of any magnitude. That is 
always the work of individuals or minorities. It is invariably the man who is 
privileged and free, as Plato was, who initiates or proposes, and plans out, 
such further ambitious advances for our race. The rest follow. 

Since writing The Art of Being Ruled (1925) I have somewhat modified 
my views with regard to what I then called ‘democracy.’ I should express 
myself differently to-day. I feel that I slighted too much the notion of 
‘democracy’ by using that term to mean too exclusively the present so-called 


democratic masses, hypnotized into a sort of hysterical imbecility by the 
mesmeric methods of Advertisement. But whatever can be said in favour of 
‘democracy’ of any description, it must always be charged against it, with 
great reason, that its political realization is invariably at the mercy of the 
hypnotist. 

But no artist can ever love democracy or its doctrinaire and more 
primitive relative, communism. The emotionally-excited, closely-packed, 
heavily standardized mass-units, acting in a blind, ecstatic unison, as though 
in response to the throbbing of some unseen music — of the sovietic or 
fourierist fancy — would be the last thing, according to me, for the free 
democratic West to aim at, if it were free, and if its democracy were of an 
intelligent order. Let us behave as if the West were free, and as if we were in 
the full enjoyment of an idea democracy. 

I prefer (I should say acting on this principle) the prose-movement — easy, 
uncontrolled and large — to the insistent, hypnotic rhythm, favoured by 
most fashionable political thought in the West. For me, there should be no 
adventitiously imposed rhythm for life in the rough. Life in the rough, or 
on the average, should be there in its natural grace, chaos and beauty; not 
cut down and arranged into a machine-made system. Its natural gait and 
movement it derives from its cosmic existence; and where too obsessing 
a human law — or time, or beat — gets imposed upon it, the life and 
beauty depart from it. Musical-politics — as the uplift politics of millennial 
doctrinaires can be termed — are, without any disguise, the politics of 
hypnotism, enregimentation, the sleep of the dance. 

A unit looser and more accidental, moving more freely than the 
ubiquitous drum-throb allows, is to be preferred: ‘unemotional,’ as the 
American and Englishman is called usually; ‘individualist’ as he is also 
called — not moving in perfect and meticulous unison with his neighbours, 
if even eccentric. The uniformity aimed at by the method of mass-sugesstion 
is, as an ideal, only a counsel of desperation. Any man of intelligence must be 
instinctively against it. But in a more specialist connection, this uniformity is 
not very dear to the artist, either. 


CHAPTER VI 

THE REVOLUTIONARY SIMPLETON 


W E now are prepared to hail the figure in the title-role of Book I. of 
this essay. Aside from the hack or small professional of ‘revolution, 
there is (and one of his habitats is the art world) the revolutionary 
simpleton. He is not the enthusiast of the will-to-change at its source, but 
only of its surface-effects, on the plane of vulgarization. 

Almost all Tories are simpletons — the simpletons of what passes with 
them for tradition,’ we could say (as is proved conclusively by the way in 
which they have defended themselves — how they hastily close all the stable 
doors long after the horses have all disappeared; also by their rare instinct for 
closing all the wrong doors, behind which there were never any horses). But 
the revolutionary simpleton, too, is a well-marked figure, found here and 
there. His characteristic gesture is the opposite to that of the Tory simpleton. 
He opens all doors, as it were — whether there is anything inside or not. He 
exclaims; he point excitedly to what he believes to be the herds of wild horses 
that are constantly pouring out of the doors flung dramatically open by him. 
We look where he points, and occasionally observe a moke or an old hack 
crawling forth. So he serves at least to advertise our terrestrial emptiness. 
Everything which is described as ‘radical’ or ‘rebel,’ or which palpably can 
receive that label, and reach its destination, excites him, in rather the same 
way that ‘scarlet sin’ and suggestions of Sodom or Lesbos, or worse, thrill 
the sex-snob, schoolboy, curate or spinster of stage tradition — the latter the 
authentic affinity of the revolutionary simpleton. 

This personage is, in one word, a romantic — that is the essential 
diagnostic for his malady. He is sick for things he has never experienced, 
or which he is incapable of experiencing — as the schoolboy, or the curate 
or spinster of stage tradition, is sick for highly-flavoured, ‘wicked’ or blood 
curdling exploits and adventures. The revolutionary simpleton is a death- 
snob; though generally the most inoffensive and often engaging of people 
himself — the sort of man who would hurt a fly, and say boo! very truculently, 
to a goose; mammock a butterfly; or, with motor gloves and a fencing casque, 
swing a small cat by the tail. Nothing but the thought of the great danger 
that so-called ‘revolutionary’ art runs from this attractive simpleton would 
persuade me to open my lips about him, he is so nice, so pleasant. 

I am not able to give you paradigmatically, in the concrete, this 
theophrastian booby. Generally he is obscure; he is an Everyman, necessarily 
an abstraction to some extent. Every one is more Everyman now than in a 
less populous time, and in everybody now alive a proportion of ‘revolutionary 
simpleton’ makes them a sort of feeble compass, dragged subtly to one centre. 
Their souls’ form may be bent towards the West, they are nevertheless ‘carried 
towards the East’; and, become smooth and spherical to order, the destiny of 
all spheres overtakes them: they — 


Subject to foreign motions, lose their own. 
And being by others hurried every day 
Scarce in a year their natural form obey. 


Some, however, are simpler than others, and at the same time have 
‘revolutionary written all over them. These are the authentic revolutionary 
simpletons. So though no outstanding, easily identified, person is supplied 
with this treatise by way of illustration, look round you, and Nature will 
make up for the deficiency; you will not have to look far to see some fool 
blossoming, in orthodox red. 

With the revolutionary simpleton, where most people find a difficulty is 
in believing his simplicity. But the simpleton does exist. I have known several 
quite guileless true-believers, often quite gifted people. But put before the 
following kind of man, and you will have the pattern of what I am attempting 
to describe: one who is very much the creature of fashion, reverencing the 
fashionable fetish of the ‘group’ or of any collectivity, with many excited 
genuflections and an air of cystic juvenile incontinence; great crowd-snob, 
the portentous vociferous flunkey of any small crowd whatever, the richer the 
more afraid he is of them; regarding all creative work in opportunist terms 
of a conformity to the fashions of this crowd or of that, the nearest to him at 
the moment — blind to the fact that all fashion is imposed on a crowd from 
somewhere without itself, in opposition to its habits, and belongs to it about 
as much as a hired fancy-dress; frightened and scandalized by the apparition 
of anybody who opposes any group or collectivity whatever; who believes 
snobbishly in any ‘minority,’ however large and flabby, provided it can satisfy 
him it is not a ‘majority,’ and who is always with the majority without being 
aware of it; his poor little easily ‘blowed’ machine panting to be there in time, 
punctual at all the dates of fashion, remarked in the chattering van at all her 
functions; flying hatless and crimson when he hears an egg is to be broken, 
not particular as to whether it be an eagle’s or a tom tit’s; very truculent but 
very sweet and obedient in fact; advancing any kitchen-maid’s sickly gushed 
out romance, provided she only calls her baby-boy her ‘bastard,’ and can be 
patronized (By himself and the reading-crowd he addresses) because she has 
never learnt how to spell, and so can be discovered, as you discover things 
in disused lofts or in gutters, or in that case a scullery; advancing the fruit of 
the dead past as new, and when knowing what in the present is false, fearing 
to denounce it, because it is momentarily current, and he trembles at the 
shadow of the law; such a nice, simple, timid ‘revolution’-loving man is what 
you should have in mind. But the revolutionary simpleton is everywhere. It is 
important not to fix the mind on any particular figure. It is the thing, rather, 
incarnated on all hands, that it is my wish to bring to light. 


CHAPTER VII 

THE RUSSIAN BALLET, THE MOST PERFECT 
EXPRESSION OF THE HIGH-BOHEMIA 


T HE art that I am attacking here is the art of this High-Bohemia of 
the ‘revolutionary’ rich of this time. That is the society the artistic 
expression of whose soul I have made it my task to analyse. That a 
glittering highly-intellectualist surface, and a deep, sagacious, rich though 
bleak sensuality make its characteristic productions appear, as art, a vast 
improvement on the fearful artlessness, ugliness, and stupidity that preceded 
it (what passed for art with the european bourgeois society of the nineteenth 
century), is true enough. That Marcel Proust (the classical expression up to 
date of this millionaire-outcase, all-caste, star-cast world, in the midst of 
which we live) is more intelligent, and possesses a more cultivated sensuality, 
a sharper brain, than his counterpart of the age of Tennyson, must be plain 
to every one. But it is not with the intellectual abyss into which Europe fell 
in the last century that you must compare what we are considering. It is not 
the small, cold, smug sentimentalists that middle-class democracy threw up 
like a cheerless vomit to express itself for a hundred lamentable years, with 
which the typical works of our High-Bohemia should be matched. All the 
works which I shall deal in the course of this critical survey will not be the 
proper expressions of this world of ‘rebel’ riches. But that is the influence 
of its standards and its characteristic cults and predilections spreads, as an 
intellectual fashion or infection, far beyond what are its borders, should be 
remembered. People born outside it, and who have never passed much time 
in it, possibly, may still be spiritually of it. 

As to the imitation of the old (always hand-in-hand with a strident claim 
to the ‘new’) which characterizes this society, it may be said that what takes 
you to the old, or takes you, on the other hand, to what is there in the world 
around you, may be a principle of life or the reverse — the Black Man sees one 
tree and the White another, when both are looking at the same plant. In an 
attack on the snobbery of learning, Swift wrote as follows : — 

If it be necessary, as the case is with some barren wits, to take in the thoughts of 
others in order to draw forth their Own, as dry pumps will not play till water is thrown 
into them; in that necessity, I would recommend some of the approved standard authors 
of antiquity for your perusal, as a poet and a wit; because, maggots being what you look 
for, as monkeys do for vermin in their keepers’ heads, you will find they abound in good 
old authors, as in rich old cheese, not in the new.... 


‘Maggots being what you look for’ — if that form of life, a low form but 
tasty, is what you look for — there is no need to go to the old cheese at all; for 
the new cheese has a very old and fruity air, and is completely full of maggots 
You waste your time, really, in going back three thousand years. 

A sort of neglected bride, her nuptials long overdue, Art remains waiting 


and watching, in the company of other disappointed entities — such as 
‘the proletariat’ — for the millennium, of course, which never comes. But 
as its once great sentimental part in the general revolutionary programme 
successively shrinks, it passes over, silently, but bag and baggage, to the 
same place to which ‘the proletariat’ has gone — namely, to the volatile 
‘revolutionary’ millionaire-Bohemia. 

That is probably the only millennium that either the artist or ‘the 
proletarian’ will ever see. The artist, on account of the nature of his calling, is 
nearer to this ill-smelling pseudo-Paradise than are most ‘proletarians.’ If he is 
an artist with any taste he will find it difficult to believe, in contemplating this 
millionaire ‘revolutionary’ Utopia, that it justifies its paradisal claim. 

If there is one art-form more than another that is the faithful mirror 
of the High-Bohemia I have been describing, it is the Ballet created by 
Diaghileff, for the post-war world of Western Europe. In it you see the perfect 
expression of the society Proust has immortalized, and which to-day has 
come into its own, fully co-ordinated and provided with a philosophy. It is a 
musical society, essentially; so its theatre is a musical theatre. And the Russian 
Ballet is to that society what the theater of Racine or Moliere was to French 
Society in the gallic heyday. Only it is far more pleased with itself than was 
the society of Les Precieuses Ridicules, or Le Misanthrope. This might almost 
be said to be its peculiarity, as has already been pointed out, and as Benda also 
immediately noticed. 

Mr. Diaghileff is a ‘revolutionary’ impresario; that is to say, what he 
provides is designed to pass as the ‘latest’ and most ‘revolutionary’ fare 
possible. In Western Europe there is no other stage-performance so original 
and experimental as his Ballet. Although invariably full of people, a very 
fashionable and wealthy audience, his performances are supposed, on account 
of their daring originality, not to pay. And every one who has the interest 
of experimental art there is no greater advertisement than that provided by 
Diaghileffs Ballets. And for the majority of educated people, their idea of the 
tendency of experimental art is a good deal derived from them. Therefore, Mr. 
Diaghileff has been in a position for some time to help or injure, according 
to his instincts, those interests. It is my opinion that he has injured them, 
and that he misrepresents entirely the dominant tendency, that that is most 
profoundly original and symptomatic of a ‘new birth,’ in the revolution in 
expression exploited by him. 

So the ‘revolutionary’ impresario Diaghileff can be convicted of 
deliberately manufacturing a bastard ‘revolutionary’ article, to flatter the taste 
of his clientele — the ‘revolutionary’ High-Bohemia of the Ritzes and Rivieras. 
He can be said to have betrayed the principles of the so-called revolution 
in art (of which he has an intimate personal knowledge, and therefore his 
betrayal is the more flagrant) to the gilded ‘revolutionaries’ of the post-war 
capitals: to have associated in the mind of the great Public the work of the 
finest artists of this time with the vulgar life of the war-gilded rabble: never to 
have seriously attempted what he was not sure would sell, and that yet all the 


time it had been understood that quite the opposite was happening, namely, 
that this idealist impresario was risking his neck, financially, every time his 
Ballet appeared, by his unpopular and revolutionary experiments. In that way 
he has used and degraded all the splendid material of artistic invention on 
which he could lay his hands to the level of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (if you 
make the ‘blonde’ a gentleman). He has given to that great impulse, which is 
essentially ‘chaste and masculine,’ a twist and colour entirely adventive to it. 

With his high-brow loot from the Paris studios he has toured the world, 
surrounded by an epicene circus, appropriate, as it exists to-day, only the 
representation of on phase of ‘revolution’ — namely, ‘advanced’ sex revolution. 
On that particular head, whatever his intentions may be, the impression 
conveyed is that the epicene fashion which in many quarters has assumed the 
proportions of a fanatical cult, is being staged and insisted on. And, as though 
thirty or forty years ago that had not all been exploited to admiration, it is on 
that basis that this ‘newness’ had found its culmination in a Nineties up-to- 
date. The Russian Ballet is the Nineties of Oscar Wilde and Beardsley staged 
for the High-Bohemia, evolved by the constellations of wars and revolutions 
of the past ten years. 

If you turn to the earlier Russian Ballet, that is merely archaeological and 
romantic. Petroushka is a beautiful romantic ballet, possessing the advantage 
of music by Stravinsky; but as art it is of the same order as Gauguin; only 
where Gauguin went back to the primitive life of the South Seas, it goes back 
to the old times in Russia. Its charm is nostalgic, that of the Middle Ages, 
with orientalism thrown in. 

All the earlier Russian Ballets consist of reconstructions of the Past and 
especially of barbaric times, principally russian or asiatic. The Ballet, thus, 
to start with, was a Scott novel, or aTarzan of the Apes, in a sensuous, 
spectacular, choreographic form. It had nothing whatever to do with any 
artistic experiment specifically of the present period. And as to DiaghilefF s 
more recent troupes, they reflect, as I have said, that phase of feminism 
expressed in the gilded Bohemia of the great capitals by the epicene fashion. 

The Russian Ballet has stressed and advertised everything that the half 
caste world of Riches and Revolution desires and imagines. It is therefore the 
most perfect illustration of what I mean in my analysis of the degradation 
of Revolution (cf. Appendix, p. 136) and the assimilation of that to the 
millionaire spirit. 

If I were a woman and if I found an art springing up which founded 
itself upon and twisted everything into an interpretation of the world from 
the unique standpoint of my function as a woman, I should, if I were a 
little unassuming and distrustful of flattery, first ask myself why my sex was 
so strangely honoured and singled out for attention; and I should (with 
the same proviso again) condemn this one-sided and too specialized art- 
form. So whatever our sex-position may be, whether strongly polar, or of an 
intermediate nature, we must equally disclaim intellectual expressions that 
seek to found themselves upon sex, which is the most specialized thing about 


us, the most ‘artistic’ thing, it is true, but the least promising as material for 
the finest art; and which is linked with interests that are too feverish and 
stupefying to guarantee a perfect aesthetic expression. Artistic expression is a 
dream-condition, and its interpretation must be kept clear of sex- analysis, or 
else the dreamer passes over immediately into waking life, and so we get no 
art, and are left with nothing but sex on our hands, and can no longer avail 
ourselves of the dream condition. 


CHAPTER VIII 

THE PRINCIPAL ‘REVOLUTIONARY’ TENDENCY 
TO-DAY THAT OF A RETURN TO EARLIER FORMS 

OF LIFE 

THE general summary of this charge, citing the Russian Ballet first as 
best answering to all its requirements, is as follows. It is clear that we cannot 
go on for ever making revolutions which are returns merely to some former 
period of history. Yet that is what most ‘revolutions’ resolve themselves into. 
The little revolution of the Naughty Nineties was essentially archaeological 
and historical. Victorian England had piled up a scientific materialism, a 
mercantile spirit and a nonconformist humbug of such dimensions, that it 
was a target no artist- attack could miss. The ‘culture’ gospel of Arnold and 
his war against the Philistine was responsible, of course, for the Naughty 
Nineties; it was that that infanted Wilde, Beardsley, and Symons. It was a 
revolt that raised up against the ‘bourgeois’ degeneracy of England the charms 
of the Eighteenth Century, the Restoration, or the Augustan Age, and more 
distantly the idealism of the Greek World. And the Russian Ballet, of the last 
un-russian phase, has revived the faded spirit of the Yellow Book, and given 
it a new dramatic life. Nothing new can be invented, it seemed to say, or, if 
invented, it could not be swallowed by the Publics degraded by the last phases 
of the democratic regime. So an old success had to be dug up and repeated. 

It has ended in a cynicism of a What the Public Wants description, where by 
‘Public’ is meant the moneyed throng of the ‘revolutionary’ High-Bohemia. 

The Fascist Revolution again, to revert to the political scene, is an 
imitation of an antiquity. The fasces are the axes of the lictors; the roman 
salute is revived; and the Roman Empire is to be resuscitated. Mussolini 
continually announces. It is interesting to remember that it did not begin 
that way, but in an exclusive glorification of the Present. For fascism is an 
adaptation, or prolongation, only, of futurism. But however ‘revolutions’ may 
begin, they always end in what Marinetti named passeism. 

Feminism, to take another political movement, is a revolution that aims 
at reversing the supposed conditions of the sexes, and so returning to the 
supposed conditions of the primitive Matriarchate. It is indeed impossible 
to point to any one of the many ‘revolutionary’ movements of to-day that 
are not conscious returns to former, more primitive, conditions of society. 
‘Communism’ is, of course, an example of this. 

All the most influential revolutions or sentiment or of ideologic formula 
to-day, in the world of science, sociology, psychology, are directed to some 
sort of return to the Past. The cult of the savage (and indirectly that of the 
Child) is a pointing backward to our human origins, either as individuals 
(when it takes the form of the child-cult) or as a race (When it takes the form 
of ‘the primitive’). 


Freud’s teaching has resuscitated the animal past of the soul, following 
upon Darwin, and hatched a menagerie of animal, criminal, and primitive 
complexes’ for the Western mind. All these approaches stress the Past, the 
primitive, all that is not the civilized Present. There is no revolutionary theory 
or movement that does not ultimately employ itself in bringing to life ghosts, 
and putting the Present to school with the Past. 

But there is nothing so ‘new’ and so startling as the Past, for most people. 
All the supreme novelties come from the most distant epochs; the more 
remote the more novel, of course. The ‘Future,’ it is true, contains nothing 
but potential novelties. But they are not yet in existence, and so cannot 
be educed. And the creative myths and dreams of the poets are no longer 
allowed. So what we generally name ‘the new’ is the very old, or the fairly old. 
It is as well to point this out, and even to stress it, since it is an impressive fact 
not sufficiently recognized. 

But where the ‘new’ is dug up, pieced together, and given a new lease of 
life, it is customary to announce it as an absolute novel creation. That is the 
rule to-day. And it is this bad rule or habit that it seems to me it would be a 
good thing if we could break. Let us call a spade a spade; let us call what the 
spade digs up old, very old; not new, very new. if we will not make use of our 
inventors, when it comes to the point, but only off our archaeologists, then 
do not let us call our discoveries ‘creative’ or ‘new’ (which they are not); but 
rather call them scholarship and archaeology — that is to say, the science of 
the old and the primitive. That would be more truthful, and it would prevent 
misunderstandings. 

It is especially in art that this would prevent misunderstandings. Art is as 
much a ‘timeless’ thing as technical invention is a creature of time. Its values 
are more static, as physically it is more static; in its greatest or most universal 
expression it is in another world from that of fashion. I am not therefore 
suggesting that here art is concerned other periods, races and countries 
should be banished. It is the ‘revolutionary’ terminology and propagandist 
method, alone, that I am criticizing. But beyond that it is imperative to say 
as well that the perfectly novel inventive forces that contemporary science 
and technique suggest are not used in art; or when used are not recognized. 

If you happen to admire and enjoy the art of antiquity, as I do, you will 
welcome its exploitation. But there can be no object except a commercial one 
in advertising it as ‘new.’ And what really is new is obscured by that device. In 
that new creation I am supremely interested. 

The ‘newness’ obtained, again, as in the case of the Russian Ballet, by 
means of novelties that are not novelties (psychologically or formally), or by 
a mechanical collection of trivial surface-novelties, drawn from The plane 
of vulgarization, as the hybrid pseudo-’revolutionary’ plane of the Fligh- 
Bohemia could be called called, are equally misnamed. And this sort of 
novelty, of necessity, takes on all the distorting modes of pseudo-Revolution, 
as affected by the Millionaire World; especially those centering round 
feminism and sex-revolt, to the confusion of the true revolutionary impulse. 


These criticisms apply to all the phases of artistic expression I have 
subsequently to examine. Romance and scholarship plus advertisement, 
take the place of really new creative effort. Some quite ridiculous piece of 
the mildest ‘daring’ in the world, or the tamest ‘experiment,’ is advertised as 
an outrage. And as an outrage it is accepted, on the word of the advertiser; 
though there is nothing there to disturb the pulse of a rabbit, and no more 
invention than is required to spell a word in an unusual way, or to paint a 
bird with a monkey’s tail. 


CHAPTER IX 

EZRA POUND, ETC. 


N EXT after the Russian Ballet I propose to range, for analysis, an old 
associate of mine, Ezra Pound. There are some obvious objections 
to this, chief among them the personal regard in which I hold him. 
Since the War I have seen little of Pound. One towards the end of my long 
period of seclusion and work, hard-pressed, I turned to him for help, and 
found the same generous and graceful person there that I had always known; 
for a kinder heart never lurked beneath a portentous exterior than is to be 
found in Ezra Pound. Again, Pound is not a vulgar humbug even in those 
purely propagandist activities, where, to my mind, he certainly handles 
humbug, bug quite innocently, I believe. Pound is — that is my belief — a 
genuine naif. He is a sort of revolutionary simpleton! 

But my present critical formulations must certainly bring me into conflict 
with many people whom Pound is pledged to support, or whom he is liable 
to support. For some itme it has been patent to me that I could not reconcile 
the creative principles I have been developing with his sensationalist half- 
impresario, half-poet; whose mind can be best arrived at, perhaps, by thinking 
of what would happen if you could mix in exactly equal proportions Bergson- 
Marinetti-Mr. Hueffer (with a few preraphaelite Christian names’ thrown in), 
Edward Fitzgerald and Buffalo Bill. At all events, Pound’s name and mine 
have certain associations in people’s minds. For the full success of my new 
enterprise it is necessary to dispel this impression. 

I will start by giving the briefest possible account of how, in the past, we 
came to work together. 

The periodical, Blast (the first number of which appeared in 1914 just 
before the outbreak of war, and the second in 1915 — the ‘war-number’), was, 
as its name implies, destructive in intention. What it aimed at destroying in 
England — the ‘academic’ of the Royal Academy tradition — is now completely 
defunct. The freedom of expression, principally in the graphic and plate 
arts, desired by it, is not attained, and can be indulged in by anybody who 
has the considerable private means required to be an ‘artist.’ So twelve years 
since that mass of propaganda was launched, in turning over the pages of 
Blast to-day it is hard to realize the bulk of the traditional resistance that its 
bulk was invented to overpower. How cowed these forces are to-day, or how 
transformed! 

Ezra Pound attached himself to the Blast Group. That group was 
composed of people all very ‘extremist’ in their views. In the matter of fine 
art, as distinct from literature, it was their policy to admit no artist disposed 
to technical compromise, as they regarded it. What struck them principally 
about Pound was that his fire-eating propagandist utterances were not 
accompanied by any very experimental efforts in his particular medium. 

His poetry, to the mind of the more fanatical of the group, was a series 


of pastiches of old french or old italian poetry, and could lay no claim to 
participate in the new burst of art in progress. Its novelty consisted largely 
in the distance it went back, not forward; in archaism, not in new creation. 
That was how they regarded Pound’s literary contributions. But this certain 
discrepancy between what Pound said — what he supported and held up as an 
example — and what he did, was striking enough to impress itself on anybody. 

My opposition to Marinetti, and the criticism of his ‘futurist’ doctrines 
that I launched, Pound took a hand in, and those of my friends were just as 
opposed to Pound’s antiquarian and romantic tendencies, his velvet-jacket 
and his blustering trouvere airs, as was the futurism of Marinetti. But these 
inconsequences were matched by many other disorders and absurdities in our 
publicist experiments — inseparable from things done just for the day, and 
regarded as of no more consequence than hand-bills, and possibly rockets or 
squibs. Pound supplied the Chinese Crackers, and a trayful of mild jokes, for 
our paper; also much ingenious support in the english and american press; 
and, of course, some nice quiet little poems — at least calculated to vex Signor 
Marinetti with their fine passeiste flavour. 

Until quite recently I heard little of my old friend. Then I was informed 
that the good Ezra was breaking out in a new direction. He was giving up 
words — possibly frightened, I thought, by the widespread opposition to words 
of any sort — words, idle words and their manipulators. He was taking to 
music — a less compromising activity. For in music the sounds say nothing. 

(M. Paul Valery, like Ezra Pound, would prefer to believe that they say 
nothing in poetry either. But in spite of these musical dogmatists, still they 
speak. Pound shows his appreciation of this by turning to music.) 

In the matter of revolutionary excitement there was indeed not much 
more to be god out of the plastic or graphic arts. Their purely ‘revolutionary’ 
value exhausted after the war (which also eclipsed and luckily put an end 
to Marinetti’s bellowings, besides killing off most of the ‘futurists’), their 
play-boys’ place was taken by real, Red Revolution; just as Marinetti’s post- 
nietzschean war-doctrine became War, tout court, and then Fascismo, which 
as Futurism in practice is the habit of mind and conditions of war applied to 
peace. 

The Blast situation, on a meaner scale, repeats itself. Pound is there with a 
few gentle provenqal airs, full of a delicate scholarship and ‘sense of the Past,’ 
the organizer of a musical disturbance. The real business is done by a young 
musician, Antheil, of a fiery accomplishment and infectious faith in the great 
future of jazz. (As I don’t know the first word in musical composition I can 
say nothing about Antheil’s work except that from what he has played to me 
I have got considerable pleasure from.) Not only a typical Pound-situation is 
thus set up, but (as I see it) a typical ‘revolutionary’ situation of the bad type. 

If Antheil is as interesting as I (quite ignorantly) believe him to be, and 
if he is really aiming at something new, the quality of Pound’s championship, 
or his personal motives, would not concern us; though it is a question if his 
support is at any time more damaging or useful. But that is merely a practical 


question. It is disturbance that Pound requires; that is the form his parasitism 
takes. He is never happy if he is not sniffing the dust and glitter of action 
kicked up by other, more natively ‘active’ men. With all his admirable flair for 
‘genius’ (in which he has described himself as ‘a specialist’), it leads him into 
the support of things that are at once absurd and confusing. He is not always 
so lucky as I believe him to be in his choice of Antheil. It is the type of man 
that Pound is, or partly is, and the method that he advocates and practises, 
that sooner or later has to be repudiated by the artist. 

Pound is, I believe, only pretending to be alive for form’s sake. His 
effective work seems finished. The particular stimulation that Pound requires 
for what he does all comes from without; he is terribly dependent upon 
people and upon ‘atmosphere’; and, without a sensationalist of his type, 
in the nature of things little development is possible, his inspiration is of 
a precarious order, attached as it is to what he regards as his role, handed 
him by a shadow to whose authority he is extremely susceptible, a Public he 
despises, is afraid of, and serves. So he is easily isolated, his native resources 
nil. 

It is said that Nature kills all lyrical poets young. Perhaps Pound believed 
that he had found a solution for that distressing situation. He may have 
become aware of an up-till-then undiscovered alternative for the lyrical 
poet. Just as Nature (very busy with other things at the moment), hearing a 
new lyric rising on the air from a quarter which she esteemed should have 
discontinued its issue of such youthul trifles, had turned with an obviously 

At all events, there is Pound (glad to be in the neighborhood of a big 
drum) making music. 

What made me finally decide that the time had arrived publicly to 
repudiate my associate with Pound, was the following interview with him, 
appearing in the Christian Science Monitor two summers ago. Remembering 
his opposition, following me, to Marinetti and his ‘futurism’ (to the 
intellectual commis of Big Business — especially the armament line — and his 
ridiculous gospel), this interview is especially curious : — 


‘It is possible to imagine music being taken out of the chamber, andentering social 
and industrial life so completely and so splendidly that the whole clamor of a great 
factory will be rhythmically regulated, and the workers work, not to a deafening din, 
but to a superb symphony. The factory manager would be a musical conductor on an 
immense scale, and each artisan would be an instrumentalist. You think that perhaps 
George Antheil and I are foolish visionaries, etc.’. . . 

It was thus that Ezra Pound, American poet and musician, indicated the 
possibilities of a convergence of the lines of industrial and musical development. 
Revolutionary as the notion appears at first sight, it is extraordinarily suggestive. So 
a thousand men not only would be making material things, but in the process would 
be producing, not a mere cacophony of confused noises, but a gigantic symphony in 
accordance with a score directed by a chefd’orchestre altogether surpassing the chef 
d’orchestre of the concert-room. An entire town, might, in Pound’s view, become the 
stage from which would arise the regulated harmony of industry. 


Marinetti is rehabilitated by Ezra — music, provengal airs and ballads of 
Villon, as far as he personally is concerned, taking him paradoxically right 
to the great throbbing, singing heart of the great god, Industry. I should be 
tempted to think that it had taken Ezra a decade to catch up Marinetti, if I 
were not sure that, from the start, the histrionics of the milanese prefascist 
were secretly much to his sensation-loving taste. I observe rather that he has 
not moved from where he was. 

To turn from his musical enterprise to other schemes in which he has 
recently participated, I reach material about which I am more competent to 
speak. A vast publication appeared a year or so ago, which sallied forth under 
his banner. Not to burden posterity with an unnecessary name, I will call it 
the Q. Review. 

This enterprise answers to all the requirements laid down, in connection 
with my criticism of the Ballet, for a typical production of the false 
‘revolutionary’ milieu of that Millionaire Bohemia that has absorbed and is 
degrading the revolutionary impulse of the West — the creative impulse, that 
is. It announces as surprisingly new what is old, or merely the dull wash of 
any time; as outrageous what might startle a secluded spinster charwoman, 
but no one else; as ‘daring’ what does not display the dash of a tortoise. In 
fact, it is surprising with what completeness it fulfils these conditions, on an 
epic scale. The ‘revolutionary’ enthusiast, whether a stupid or an intelligent 
one, will look in vain, in this colossal publication, for anything to satisfy 
his appetite, outside the fragments of work by Mr. Joyce and Miss Stein, 
now become the standbys of all ‘revolutionary’ editors who are able to 
supply nothing revolutionary themselves. The editor freely favors his barren 
sentimentalism with the early mannerisms of Miss Stein. That is the most 
violent thrill that you will get. Nothing of the roguishness even, or physical 
dislocation of Dada; no new technical attempt whatever enlivens those 
unhappy pages. But to make up for this striking absence of ordinary spirit, 
you will get all the big and noisy, six-foot advertisers’ claims; all the ‘Greater 
than Shakespeares,’ the ‘Death to the Pasts,’ the announcement of this 
enterprise as that of an absolutely new era, with which you have long been 
familiar. 

And there is Ezra Pound, as patron saint, at the heart of all this profuse 
and meaningless word-bath — full of his old love of the Past, plodding 
melodramatically through mediaeval Italy, and throwing in snatches of 
translation and paraphrase of the greek, or of any other language which is 
ancient or traditional enough. Meanwhile, the editor exclaims at the top of 
his voice: ‘Tradition is an unimportant fact.... To speak of continuing the great 
traditions to-day is to plead for the use of condemned bridges. ...It is going to 
the scrap heap for advice on development.’ ‘It is the aim of the present writer 
to imagine that life has begun only to-day so far as culture and civilisation,’ 
etc. etc. How to reconcile that with what Mr. W-sh (the initial of the editor; 
posterity has to be protected) says, and what Pound, he and the rest of 
them, do, must be very difficult for the best-intentioned. If this ideal fool, 


W-sh, were a little shrewder and more intelligent, he might have spoilt what 
is a quite perfect give-away for himself and all his kind. As it is, he is worth 
quoting; for I dare say we shall never have such a fool as Mr. W-sh again to do 
some of our dirty work for us. 

All the big words, then, without exception, are still there. Pound is 
enthroned as the master-poet of the absolutely new epoch; but all that was 
ever new or that showed any signs of wanting to evolve some formula never 
tried before, has evaporated. It is totally absent Q. Review. There was never 
anything new about Ezra, but there is not not the faintest flicker of ‘newness’ 
in those with whom he has associated himself, always excepting Antheil, 

Joyce and Gertrude Stein. If your eye just fell on W-sh’s editorials, you would 
turn to the rest of the paper, perhaps, with bated breath. ‘Great traditions — 
condemned bridges — scrap heap! Life has begun only to-day!’ Turning to life, 
as exhibited in the contributions, you then would find, to your dismay, this 
sort of overwhelming literary innovation, both in manner an conception : — 

The protestant pastor was sane, so were the props of the protestant church who 
took the collection (all men) and the well-balanced fathers, brothers, husbands, 
brothers-in-law, judges, lawyers, doctors, architects, bank managers, bank clerks, 
farmers, waiters, gardeners, railway porters, etc. etc. 

There was never any talk in the home about her being a painter; they had never 
known any such thing, but they would let her indulge in that low streak. Even her 
father’s enthusiasm stopped short at that, and her mother was disdainful. Cissy said she 
should go, and saved money and sent it to her regularly. And then she found the Atelier 
Carmen (belonging to voluptuous Carmen), where the inspired master ‘corrected,’ and 
there she worked furiously with an eager group of American students. 


You would be under the impression that you were reading a feuilleton 
in the Daily Mirror. There are forty closely printed pages of that, (for some 
reason the thirteen first pages are printed twice in different parts of the 
paper — so you get over fifty altogether.) Then there is this, from another, 
though very similar hand : — 

I’ll be American and try anything once, if it really isn’t imposing on you, 
then,’ Miss Taylor answered as she left. Ni watched her as she walked away. He felt 
antagonistic in a way to her. She was too restrained, to insistent on balance and sense, 
e was sure. She must believe in taste and refinement. The calm English temperament 
put him off anyway, and he hated the cageiness of conventional minds of any race. 
Nevertheless, he was attracted, or curious about, Miss Taylor, beneath his antagonism, 
etc. 

Damn it, there was no use. Virg and Margie might be feather-witted, but they 
were the kind of girls to be around with easily, and if he got amorous they didn’t think 
it meant anything serious. Poor old Amy, whom no man but he bothered about on 
the campus, was apt to wish to believe that even an amiable attention meant marriage 
intentions in the offing. He supposed he had been rather abrupt with her, though, since 
coming back, and she had been decent about writing him letters, etc. etc. 


There is a good deal of that as well; it is the handiwork of that literary 
wonder we will call Bud Macsalmon, announced by Wush to his readers as 


‘one of the most astonishing writers since the fathers of English literature.’ 
Here is the editor on this particular giant of his super-circus : — 

I can't wait (howls W-sh). I can't wait any longer to say that Bud Macsalmon is 
one of the most astonishing writers since the fathers of English literature. If you care 
for Shakespeare, if you care for Dickens, if you care for Conrad, you will care more for 
Macsalmon. He is colossal without being dull. He had the deep smile and the hidden 
laughter of Indian women pounding maize without caring at all who is to eat it. The 
world eats maize. The world eats bread. Very well. Pound maize. Somebody eat by and 
by. Everybody got to eat sooner or later. Pound maize. Macsalmon write. He write a 
great deal, etc., etc. 

He goes on to say of Bud and his friends that they are the school that 
writes by instinct.’ And he illustrates this by quoting their spelling — they 
spell tries as trys, he exultantly points out. They are true primitives. All these 
primitives have had, like children, the same difficulty: they have not been 
able to spell! And yet how expressive their little faults of orthography can 
be! What a nice archaic feeling it gives one to see tries spelt trys! (Just like 
Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, as a matter of fact — only, of course, much higher- 
class stuff! else, of course, Shakespeare wouldn’t have been mentioned — not in 
connection with Gentlemen Prefer Blondes') 

What is wrong with Ring. W. Lardner, his publisher could ask Mr. 

W-sh, for ‘Shakespeare’ honours, or the heavy-weight English literary belt? 

I will give a slice from the Lardner (he is a well-known American humorist, 
not appearing in the Q. Review. He is the author of Gullible’s Travels, etc.). 

You can compare it with Bud, and you will be able to judge on the spot if 
Lardner’s chances would not be rosy if there were nothing but Bud there to 
stop him, for the literary world-title. 

Before we started, Mother patted me on the back and told me to do my best, so we 
started in and I seen right off that I was in for it, as I hadn’t pitched a shoe in sixteen 
years and didn’t have my distance. And besides, the plating had wore off the shoes so 
that they was points right where they stuck into my thumb and I hadn’t throwed more 
than two or three times when my thumb was raw and it pretty near killed me to hang 
on to the shoe, let alone pitch it. 

Well, to make a long story short, I was just beginning to get my distance when I 
had to give up on account of my thumb, which I showed it to Hartsell and he seen I 
couldn’t go on, as it was raw and bleeding. Even if I could have stood it to go on myself, 
mother wouldn’t have allowed it after she had seen my thumb. So anyway I quit and 
Hartsell said the score was nineteen six, but I don’t know what it was. Or don’t care, 
neither. 


That, from Mr. Lardner’s latest book, will, I think you will agree, take 
some beating in its own class — the class, of course, of Wush’s favourites. 
Lardner has the deep smile and hidden laughter of Indian women pounding 
maize. Also, if you like Antony and Cleopatra, you will like Lardner. He is 
colossal without being dull — that is what he aims at and that is what he 
achieves. If he does not spell properly, well, the Lathers of English Literature 


couldn’t either, and if he can spell, but won ’t, well, then he’s like a lot of other 
people. My money is on Lardner for being read longer than his competitors, 
Wishes champions. Besides he (Lardner) has the deep smile of Indian women 
on purpose because it pays him to have that smile. He does not give a hoot 
for that smile, I guess, aside from that. Lardner one can respect. Mr. W-sh 
has a weakness for pidgin English too. But the dialect of his predilection is 
the spurious child-language of Miss Stein, cadenced and said twice over in 
the form of the hebrew narrative. That is, as it were, his native tongue. I will 
quote a few passages at random. Here he is writing about the greatest genius 
that has ever lived (not Bud this time) : — 

He never told me his thoughts. I never knew what was in his mind. And then came 
his book, A HURRIED MAN, and that is why I am writing and why I have told you 
all that I have because I want you to know how one comes to know a great man not yet 
thirty years old and how one is very close to a great pleasure and a great dignity without 
being aware. 

‘One’ is also very close to Miss Stein, as will be perceived in the way one 
expresses one’s self — ’and that is why I am writing and white I have told you 
all that I have,’ etc. He is also, himself, naturally, ‘a hurried man.’ You get 
the full flavour of the breathless hurried confidential lisp of the little baby 
girl, rushing to its mother’s knee and pouring out coyly its winsome chatter, 
do you not, with our Mr. W-sh? And yet soon this charm stolen by that big 
rough hairy dark-browed Mr. W-sh, from some innocent, must wear out 
the most benevolent reader (for some one must be benevolent where he is 
concerned, somebody must love Wush, or he would not prattle in public in 
this way). ‘Told oo that me have, oo naught mammie oo’ is at all events the 
type of his main line of writing. ‘Belly well. Pound maize. Somebody eat by 
and by,’ is a side track. 

The author of the Hurried Man is, along with ‘Bud’ (the author of The 
Hasty Bunch) and, as a third, the lady from whose work I have already 
quoted, Wooshes pick, the trio of his heart. So he recommends to us one who 
is perhaps the ‘greatest’ of the ‘great.’ Here is a specimen of what is written by 
the author of the Hurried Man (he is a poet and a little bitter, that is his note) 


I received from a friend 

a letter where 

was a portrait of yours 

cut from a paper; 

and was kinda nostalgic 

the way a man would be 

who’d left a barrel of rotting apples 

uneaten. 


The daring of this takes your breath away, and the bitterness of the 
ending fair turns yer up: am I right? The very spirit of ‘revolution’ breathes in 


every word of it. Everything in this enormous Review of 340 pages was not so 
abominably foolish as W-sh, as might be expected. Hemingway, for instance, 
is an admirable writer, almost universally admired. But his impresario is not 
satisfied. He must be admired by Wush, as well; go through it he must, since 
he is there between the same covers with Wush. So Wush says : — 

Hemingway is the shyest and proudest and sweetest smelling storyteller of my 
reading. 


What a horrible nosegay — for a really shy and proud man! Again he says 


The genius of Hemingway’s writing lies somewhere around his getting ready to 
write since some time back. The next happened. Hemingway managed to get born in 
America and born with more sensitiveness than most young men in America. 


So much for Q. Review. Pound, Stein and Joyce I will deal with next, 
under a separate head. What a field for some Mencken is lying fallow, and 
it seems unsuspected in the world of bastard ‘revolutionary’ prose and verse. 
The laughable extravagance of some provincial american advertiser, evangelist 
or what not, is not more absurd, vulgar, and unnatural. But because the 
Washes of this world fly the colours of ‘high art,’ are ‘poets ’ — rebel poets — are 
the intellectual elite, they are immune from critical notice. It would be an 
important service to art if some publicist like Mencken specialized in them for 
a season, and gave the low-brows a turn to laugh, or vomit. 

When a person, whatever his past services in the cause of art may be, 
reaches such a state of decay that he can support such enterprises as the Q. 
Review, it is time to cut loose, if you have been formerly in his company. The 
end with Pound cannot be long delayed. So it will be evident, I hope, already 
that my action as regards the estimable Ezra is by no means premature; that 
there was in fact not a moment to be lost. 


1 Since writing this chapter I have heard of the death, under tragic circumstances, of one of the people 
whose activities are examined here. But I have envisaged the Q Review as essentially an activity of Pound; 
and whether it continue or not, it remains a portion of his history. 


CHAPTER X 

TESTS FOR COUNTERFEIT IN THE ARTS 


/ TV the beginning was the Word should rather be, in the beginning was Time , 
according to Miss Stein (as also according to Bergson, Prof. Alexander, 
Einstein, Whitehead, Minkowski, etc. etc.). And she is one of the most 
eminent writers of what I have described as our musical society, that is our 
time-society, the highly-intellectualized High-Bohemia. 

‘In the beginning there was time in the composition that naturally was 
in the composition but time in the composition comes now and this is what 
is now troubling every one the time in the composition is now a part of 
distribution and equilibration. 

In Miss Stein’s composition there is above all time, she tells us as best 
she can. As best she can, as you see; for she is not able to tell us this or 
anything else clearly and simply; first of all because a time-obsession, it seems, 
interferes, so we are given to understand. The other reason is that she is not 
simple at all, although she writes usually so like a child — like a confused, 
stammering, rather ‘soft (bloated, acromegalic, squinting and spectacled, one 
can figure it as) child. Miss Stein you might innocently suppose from her naif 
stuttering to be, if not a child, simple, at least, in spite of maturity. But that 
is not so; though, strangely enough, she would like it to be thought that it is. 
That is only the old story of people wanting to be things they are not; or else, 
either as strategy or out of pure caprice, enjoying any disguise that reverses or 
contradicts the personality. 

Composition as Explanation is a little pamphlet just published by the 
Hogarth Press. In it you have the announcement that ‘Time time of the 
composition is the time of the composition.’ But as simple as that sounds, it 
is only roguishness on the part of its authoress, all the while. That is her fun 
only. She is just pretending, with a face of solemn humbug, not to be able to 
get out the word; what this verbal inhibition results in is something funny, 
that will make you laugh. It is a form of clowning, in short; she will disarm 
and capture you by her absurdity. 

But Time, as you are told, is at the bottom of the matter; though that 
you could have guessed, since it has been so for a very long time, from the 
beginning of the present period; from the birth of Bergson, shall we say? 
(Bergson was supposed by all of us to be dead, but Relativity, oddly enough at 
first sight, has recently resuscitated him; for the time-spacer has turned out to 
be the old-timer, or timist, after all.) 

Miss Stein announces her time-doctrine in character, as it were. She gives 
you an ‘explanation,’ and illustrations, side by side; but the explanation is 
done in the same way as the examples that follow it. A further ‘explanation’ 
would be required of the ‘explanation,’ and so on. And in that little, perhaps 
unregarded, fact, we have, I believe, one of the clues to this writer’s mind. It 
tells us that her mind is a sham, to some extent. 


In doing her explanation’ of her compositions in the same manner as her 
compositions (examples of which she gives), she is definitely making-believe 
that it is impossible for her to write in any other way. She is making a claim, 
in fact, that suggest a lack of candour on her part; and she is making it with 
an air of exaggerated candour. Supposing that the following line represented a 
typical composition of yours : — 

F u gfuggFFF-fe w g:fugfug-F u g-fug ue -ff[]ffu uuuuu G 

Supposing, having become celebrated for that, you responded to a desire 
on the part of the public to know what you were driving at. Then the public 
would be justified in estimating your sincerity of a higher order if you sat 
down and tried to ‘explain’ according to the canons of plain speech (no 
doubt employed by you in ordering your dinner, or telling the neighbouring 
newsagent to send you the Herald, Tribune, or Daily Express every morning), 
your verbal experiments, than if you affected to be unable to use that kind of 
speech at all. 

Every painter who has experimented in abstract design, for example, 
has often been put into that situation; he must often have been asked the 
familiar question: ‘But do you really see things like that, Mr. So-and-So?’ 

Were Miss Stein that painter, we know now what would happen. She would 
roll her eyes, squint point in a frenzy at some object, and, of course, stammer 
hard. She would play up to the popular ignorance as to the processes by 
which her picture had been arrived at, in short. She would answer ‘in 
character,’ implying that she was cut off from the rest of the world entirely 
by an exclusive and peculiar sensibility. Yet every one knows who engages in 
experiments of any sort, verbal or pictorial, that that is not at all the point 
of the matter. It is a deliberate adjustment of things to some formula which 
transforms what is treated into an organism, strange according to the human 
norm, though it might appear normal enough to the senses of some other 
animal. Normal speech, or normal vision, are not interfered with in the 
practitioner of these experiments, on the one hand; nor does what in the 
result has an abnormal appearance arise literally in an abnormal experience, or 
an experience without a normal, non-visionary, basis. 

For these reasons Miss Stein’s illustrations would have been much more 
impressive if she had not pretended, to start with, that, as to the explanation, 
she ‘could not do it in any other way.’ In this fact, that ‘explanation’ and 
‘composition’ are both done in the same stuttering dialect, you have the proof 
that you are in the presence of a faux-naif, not the real article. Miss Stein’s 
merits elsewhere are not cancelled by this — people are often gifted without 
being able to lay any claim to being ‘sincere,’ as we say. But it is a little 
difficult to understand how she could be so stupid. Her assumption that any 
advantage was to be gained by this studied obscurity, where it was, after all, 
pointless, is that. Perhaps, however, it was only conceit. 

Should my ensuing remarks sting Miss Stein into a rejoinder, then I think 


you would see something like the situation that would be created if some 
beggar shamming blindness observed a person about to disappear with his 
offertory box. The ‘blind’ under such conditions would see at once, and rush 
after the robber. It is the classic test case in the everyday world of everyday 
sham. I am afraid, however, that Miss Stein is too cunning a stammerer to be 
so easily unmasked. Miss Stein’s stutter in her explanation even of her other 
celebrated stutterings, is a proof, then, to my mind, that she is a homologue 
of the false-blind; that, in some measure, she is a sham. 

Still, what we can retain from that little affected treatise, is that Time is 
at the bottom of her mind, the treasured key to her technical experiments. 
And so she is working in the strictest conformity with all the other time’- 
doctrinaires, who have gathered in such disciplined numbers, so fanatically 
disciplined, as though to the beating of a ritualistic drum. 

With a trick like Miss Stein’s, every one, I think, should have to pay a fee 
for using it. It is quite certain that it would never have occurred to most of 
those who use it more or less, like the editor of the Q. , for instance, without 
the promptings of the jazz-sibyl. This habit of speech, like a stuttering 
infection, is very contagious. Mr. Joyce even has caught it, and, one of the 
most pedagogically careful of men, has thrown overboard a great deal of 
laboriously collected cargo, and romps along at the head of the fashionable 
literary world, hand in hand with Gertrude Stein, both outdoing all children 
in jolly quaintnesses. 

The child-personality, the all-important base of this school that I am 
attacking, and all that the affecting of that personality, and the language of 
childhood, implies, is of such decisive importance, that I will now, during 
some pages, provide a brief analysis of this sudden malady of childhood that 
has mysteriously overtaken all our world, from the hoariest veteran down to 
the veritable child. 


CHAPTER XI 

A BRIEF ACCOUNT OF THE CHILD-CULT 


I SUPPOSE that there is no one who has not noticed, passim and without 
attentiveness, perhaps, in a hundred different forms, the prevalance 
of what now amounts to a cult of childhood, and of the Child. This 
irresponsible, Peterpannish psychology is the key to the Utopia of the 
‘revolutionary’ Rich; the people, namely, who have taken over, have degraded, 
and are enjoying the fruits of revolutionary scientific innovation — far from 
its creative ardours, cynically scornful of its idealisms, but creating out of its 
ferments, which they have pillaged, a breathless Millenium. 

This subject has been so thoroughly analysed by me elsewhere that I do 
not propose to go into it again here. All that is necessary to say is that it is 
essential, if you wish to understand at all a great deal of contemporary art 
and thought, even the developments of positive science, not only to gather 
up all the dispersed manifestations of this strange fashion, but — having done 
so — to trace this impulse to its source in the terrible and generally hidden 
disturbances that have broken the back of our will in the Western countries, 
and have already forced us into the greatest catastrophes. Whether these great 
disturbances are for the ultimate good of mankind or not, no one can claim 
that they are pleasant, or that they do not paralyse and weaken the system 
they attack. Many complaints break out in consequence in the midst of our 
thinking; and the instinctive recoil of the stricken system makes it assume 
strange shapes. 

What you have to ask yourself is why, exactly, a grown person should 
wish to be a child? — for to use the forms of infantile or immature life, 
to make an art of its technical imperfections, and to exploit its natural 
ignorance, is, in some sense, to wish to be a child. 

That, to start with, it is connected with the cult of the primitive and the 
savage, is obvious. The same impulse that takes the romantic painter, Gauguin, 
to the South Sea paradise, takes a similarly romantic person of to-day to the 
Utopia of childhood, in the sense indicated above. Only the latter has the 
Heaven of Childhood inside himself (it is a time-paradise)\ whereas Gauguin 
had to go to a long way to reach Samoa. That is the advantage that time-travel 
has over space-travel. 

That was really Proust’s Utopia, too. And the great appeal of that author 
is partly because he shows a method for capturing and retaining that spirit — 
the recherche du temps perdu — and partly because he so feverishly expresses the 
will to that particular dream. As we read him, the T of his books is that small, 
naif, Charlie Chaplin-like, luxuriously-indulged, sharp witted, passionately 
snobbish, figure, a model for many variations bred thickly everywhere. But 
that is not the whole story; and rather than give an imperfect notion of what 
a little investigation will reveal, I will, having started the inquiry, leave it at 
this point, or refer the reader to that part of my recent book dealing with this 


subject. 

How the demented also joins hands with the child, and the tricks, often 
very amusing, of the asylum patient, are exploited at the same time as the 
happy inaccuracies of the infant; how contemporary inverted-sex fashions are 
affiliated to the Child-cult; and in fact all the different factors in this intricate 
sensibility, being evolved notably by such writers as Miss Stein, will be found 
there. Not to seize the secret of these liaisons is totally to misunderstand the 
nature of what is occurring around you to-day. 


CHAPTER XII 

‘TIME’-CHILDREN. MISS GERTRUDE STEIN AND 
MISS ANITA LOOS 


I N the few extracts from a Review quoted on page 50 we have in the And 
then came A Hurried Man specimen, this: ‘and that is why I am writing 
and why I have told you all that I have because I want you to know how 
one comes to know a great man,’ etc. I will take at random a passage from 
Miss Stein’s Three Lives : — 

Melanctha Herbert had not made her life all simple like Rose Johnson. Melanctha 
had not found it easy with herself to make her wants and what she had, agree. 

Melanctha Herbert was always losing what she had in wanting all the things she saw. 
Melanctha was always being left when she was not leaving others. Melanctha Herbert, 
etc. 

Here is the opening of Composition as Explanation. Without any pricking 
of the ear, it is easy to isolate in these passages the Child, the naif-motif : — 

There is singularly nothing that makes a difference a difference in beginning and in 
the middle and in ending except that each generation has something different at which 
they are all looking. By this I mean so simply that anybody knows it that composition is 
the difference which makes each and all of them then different from other generations 
and this is what makes everything different otherwise they are all alike and everybody 
knows it because everybody says it. 

The there is singularly nothing’ is a jamesism, which James was already a 
little over-naif grace. ‘By this I mean so simply’ or the concluding words are 
pure ‘child.’ It is in the same category as : — 


And I know and she knows and all the world knows 
No girl need love unless she chose, 


only Miss Stein does not say (as the poet who wrote the above lines 
implies) ‘now I am going to be a simple little thing, tossing my golden head 
in a Ring-o-ring-o-Roses.’ 

I will now compare Miss Stein and Miss Loos. Here is a passage from 
Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, by Anita Loos : — 

Paris is devine. I mean Dorothy and I got to Paris yesterday, and it really is devine. 
Because the French are devine. Because when we were coming off the boat, and we were 
coming through the customs, it was quite hot and it seemed to smell quite a lot and all 
the French gentlemen in the customs, were squealing quite a lot. So I looked around and 
I picked out a French gentleman who was really in a very gorgeous uniform, etc. 


Here is a poem by Miss Gertrude Stein : — 


If you hear her snore. 

It is not before you love her 

You love her so that to be her beau is very lovely 

She is sweetly there and her curly hair is very lovely 

She is sweetly here and I am very near and that is very lovely. 

She is my tender sweet and her little feet are stretched out well which is a treat and 
very lovely. 


If you put the passage from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes into the free-verse 
form you will see the relationship still more closely : — 


Paris is devine. 

I mean Dorothy and I got to Paris yesterday, and it really is devine. 

Because the French are devine. 

Because when we were coming off the boat, and we were coming through the customs, 
it was quite hot and it seemed to smell quite a lot and all the French gentlemen in the 
customs, were squealing quite a lot. 

So I looked around and I picked out a French gentleman who was really in a very 
gorgeous uniform, etc. 

Here is another passage from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes : — 

So while we were shopping in the afternoon I saw Louie get Dorothy off in a corner 
and whisper to here quite a lot. quite a lot. So then I saw Robert get her off in a corner 
and whisper to her quite a lot. So when we got back to the Ritz, Dorothy told me why 
they whispered to her quite a lot. So it seems that when Louie whispered to Dorothy, 
etc. 

The tricks are identical, and the reasons for them (in the last two 
instances) are identical. Everything is repeated over and over again. As Miss 
Stein says in her Explanation : — 

In my beginning it was a continuous present beginning again and again and again 
and again, it was a series it was a list, etc. 


This repetition which technically weds Miss Loos and Miss Stein is the 
time-trouble,’ the time-nuisance,’ as it were; though any one who believed 
that it was such an unfortunate affair as all that for Miss Stein would be bien 
naif Here, in full-sail of affected naivete, is Miss Stein complaining of this 
terrible sense that gives her and everybody else so much trouble, as a pretty 
girl may complain of her becoming large hat on a windy day. 


There must be time. ...This is the thing that is at present the most troubling and if 
there is the time that is at present the most troublesome the time-sense that is at present 
the most troubling is the thing that makes the present the most troubling. 


‘Composition is time’ — that is the secret according to Miss Stein. ‘In 
this way at present composition is time that is the reason that at present the 


time-sense in the composition is the composition,’, etc. It is the repetition 
(the result of the troublesome time-sense, Miss Stein tells us, obsessing her, 
she can’t help it) that the most obvious point of resemblance is to be found 
between Miss Stein and Miss Loos. 

But the identity in all these tricks of manner is deeper than a simple 
technical imitation would explain. In the case of both the quotations from 
Miss Stein and from Miss Loos there are these two fundamental similarities. 
The passages are alike because (1) the person who is supposed to be writing is 
illiterate; and because (2) she or he is naif, and engagingly childish. In the case 
of Miss Loos she has employed this method because she wished to obtain the 
breathless babble of the wide-eyed child, telling Mummie all about what has 
happened to her. 

Let us take Ring W. Lardner again and see how he fits in. We will take his 
short story, Some Like Them Cold. This is how it opens (it is letter-form) : — 


Dear Miss Gillespie: How about our bet now as you bet me I would forget all 
about you the minute I hit the big town and would never write you a letter. Well, girlie, 
it looks like you lose so pay me. Seriously we will call all bets off as I am not the kind 
that bet on a sure thing and it sure was a sure thing that I would not forget a girlie like 
you and all that is worrying me is whether it may not be the other way round and you 
are wondering who this fresh guy is that is writeing you this letter. I bet you are so will 
try and refresh your memory. 


In all these cases, from Melanctha to Lardner’s letter, the manner depends 
on the following essentials, postulated before the composition starts. The 
manner shall be that of a very simple, naif person, suggesting extreme youth 
or at least the deepest inexperience; it shall be told with the breathlessness and 
monotony of the child; its charm shall be attached to a habit of never-varying, 
sing-song repetition; and (this is of great importance) the child shall be a child 
of the people, with the pathos of the illiterate added to the pathos of the child, 
the charm of both confounded. Humour is to be deliberately extracted from 
all this; that is to say that author and reader are both superior the narrator. 

Miss Gertrude Stein in her Melanctha is giving the life of a poor negress, 
not in the negress’s own words, but in her own manner. Then the mannerism 
is intended to convey, with its ceaseless repetitions, the monstrous bulk 
and vegetable accumulation of human life in the mass, in its mechanical 
rotation. Creaking, groaning, and repeating itself in an insane iteration, 
it grows, flowers heavily, ages and dies. Its sodden lustreless heaping up of 
sheer meaningless material, composing the mortal career, is conveyed in the 
monotonous, imbecile, endlessly-repeated, lumbering words: Melanctha 
Herbert, for instance, the name of the principal figure. The tone, again, the 
words used, very roughly approximate to the subject. 

Miss Anita Loos is engaged in the same literary game, and is employing 
the same method. Only her subject, or victim, is an american midinette, and 
the phases of her cheap gallantry, imbecile in its empty cunning, told her naif 
illiterate jargon, and in consequence supremely amusing to educated people 


in England and America, where, of course, it has achieved a similar success to 
that of the Young Visiters. 

Miss Stein has a considerable reputation as a serious writer, of 
experimental type, but earnest intentions; therefore to compare her 
compositions with those of Miss Loos may still strike the well-informed 
reader as an extravagance. To see really how fundamentally alike they are you 
cannot do better than take a passage in her Composition as Explanation where 
she is speaking in the first person, giving an account of herself and her doings. 
The tone, as will be seen in the extract I am about to give, is almost identical 
with Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. 

In beginning writing I wrote a book called Three Lives this was written in 1905. 

I wrote a negro story called Melanctha. In that there was a constant recurring and 
beginning there was a marked direction in the direction of being in the present although 
naturally I had been accustomed to past present and future, and why, because the 
composition forming around me was a prolonged present. A composition of a prolonged 
present is an natural composition in the world as it has been these thirty years it was 
more and more a prolonged present. I created then a prolonged present naturally I knew 
nothing of a continuous present but it came naturally to me to make one, it was simple 
it was clear to me and nobody knew why it was done like that, I did not myself although 
naturally to me it was natural. 

After that I did a book called The Making of Americans it is a long book about a 
thousand pages. 

Having naturally done this I naturally was a little troubled with it when I read 
it. I became then like the others who read it. ...Then I said to myself this time it will be 
different and I began. I did not begin again I just began. 


You will not have to listen very hard to catch, here, the accent of the little 
girl, telling how she wrote the curious pieces about which grown-ups made 
such a stir and to-do. After that I did a book called The Making of Americans 
it is a long book about a thousand pages.’ It is pure Gentlemen Prefer 
Blondes; and the more emotional reader would exclaim automatically, ‘How 
sweet!’ on reading it, completely bowled over by the punctuation, if nothing 
else. 

There is all the craft of the Charlie Chaplin appeal, all those little 
dissimulated threads run cunningly to the great big silly heart of the innocent 
people, in this mannerism of Miss Stein and Miss Loos. 

But this is only one aspect of her talent. Miss Stein is a sort of Epstein in 
words. Her puissant, heavy, churning temperament inspires respect. Or she 
is a ponderous romantic of the Conrad type; where as Miss Loos is a lightly 
ballasted best-seller only, working on the same lines. In perspective the latter 
will appear as a small mercenary practitioner of the school of Stein, just as 
Arlen and Huxley are baser varieties of Marcel Proust, in the same tradition. 

It is not at all uninstructive to compare, making allowance for their respective 
scale and pretensions, these artists of varying calibre, but similar impulse and 
taste (In the above illustration, I am not saying that Miss Stein is equal in 
importance of Proust; only that she is the limiting member of a certain class.) 


So what Miss Loos does is this: she makes fun of the illiteracy, hypocrisy 
and business instinct of an uneducated american flapper-harlot for the benefit 
of the middle-class public who can spell, and who say ‘intriguing’ and ‘divine,’ 
and who therefore are able to chuckle over the dish of bad grammar and 
naughtiness to their hearts’ content; and Miss Loos arrives at this by affecting 
to be her victim (‘told from the inside’ method) by acting the part in her role 
of author. 


CHAPTER XIII 

THE PROSE-SONG OF GERTRUDE STEIN 


M ISS STEIN has certainly never had any unvirtuous and mercenary 
intentions of the kind besetting Miss Loos; she has never needed 
to be a best-seller, luckily for herself — had that been so, she would 
have opened our eyes, I suspect. But in her earlier books (from one of which 
I have quote), she, too became the people she wrote about, adopting their 
illiteracies and colloquialisms. The other main factor in her method resulted 
in her story taking the form of a prose-song. 

It is in a thick, monotonous prose-song that Miss Stein characteristically 
expresses her fatigue, her energy, and the bitter fatalism of her nature. Her 
stories are very often long — all the longer, too, because everything has to 
be repeated half a dozen times over. In the end the most wearisome dirge 
it is possible to imagine results, as slab after slab of this heavy, insensitive, 
common prose-song churns and lumbers by. 

To an Antheil tempest of jazz it is the entire body that responds, after 
all. The executant tires; its duration does not exceed ten minutes or so, 
consecutively. But it is the tongue — only the poor, worried, hard-worked 
tongue — inside the reader’s head, or his laryngeal apparatus, that responds to 
the prose-song of Miss Stein. 

At present I am referring to what I have read of Miss Stein at the Three 
Lives stage of her technical evolution. What is the matter with it is, probably, 
that it is so dead. We can represent it as a cold suet-roll of fabulously-reptilian 
length. Cut it at any point, it is the same thing; the same heavy, sticky, opaque 
mass all through, and all along, it is weighted, projected, with a sibylline urge. 
It is mournful and monstrous, composed of dead and inanimate material. It is 
all fat, without nerve. Or the evident vitality that informs it is vegetable rather 
than animal. Its life is a low-grade, if tenacious, one; of the sausage, by-the- 
yard variety. 

That is one aspect of the question, the technical one. There is another 
which has a certain reference to the political ideology I have been analysing. 

In adopting the simplicity, the illiterateness, of the mass-average of the 
Melancthas and Annas, Miss Stein gives proof of all the false ‘revolutionary,’ 
propagandist plainmanism of her time, the monstrous, desperate, soggy lengths 
of primitive mass-life, chopped off and presented to us as a never-ending 
prose-song, is undoubtedly intended as an epic contribution to the present 
mass-democracy. The texture of the language has to be jumbled, cheap, slangy 
and thick to suit. It must be written in a slovenly, straight-off fashion, so that 
it may appear to be more ‘real.’ Only the metre of an obsessing time has to be 
put into it. It has to be rhythmatized; and this proclivity both of Miss Stein, 
and of all the characteristic fashions of those for whom she writes, destroys 
the ‘reality’ at least, giving to the life it patronizes the mechanical bias of its 
creator. 


Next we will take up the fashionable child-factor as it is found in the 
work of Miss Stein, and in most art to-day, from Sir James Barrie to Charlie 
Chaplin. Her latest book, a vast one, I hear, I have not read. But many 
slighter, or at least shorter, more recent pieces, I know. In these, where she is 
not personifying a negress or some small american bourgeoise, but playing 
her own personal literary game (she may be described as the reverse of 
Patience sitting on a monument — she appears, that is, as a Monument on 
a monument — she appears, that is, as a Monument sitting upon patience), 
this capable, colossal authoress relapses into the role and mental habits 
of childhood. Fact is thrown to the winds the irresponsible, light-hearted 
madness of ignorance is wooed, and the full-fledged Child emerges. This child 
(often an idiot-child as it happens, but none the less sweet to itself for that) 
throws big, heavy words up and catches them; or letting them slip through 
its fingers, they break in pieces; and down it squats with a grunt, and begins 
sticking them together again. Else this far-too-intellectual infant chases the 
chosen word, like a moth, through many ages, worrying the delicate life out 
of it. The larynx and tongue of the reader meantime suffers acutely. Every 
word uttered threatens to obsess and stick to his tongue. Having come, 
wrongly spelt, wrongly pronounced, or wrongly according to usage, it refuses 
to move till it has been put right; yet will not come right in Miss Stein’s 
hands. 

It is in these occasional pieces that the child-personality of Miss Stein is 
discovered in its acutest form. But the child with her is always overshadowed 
by the imbecile. That is to say, that very clever, very resourceful Gertrude 
Stein is heavily indebted to the poor honest lunatic for her mannerisms. 

All the regions between the dull stupor of complete imbecility — which is 
splendidly portrayed in Picasso’s pneumatic giantesses — and the relatively 
disciplined, alert, fixed condition, which is humanly regarded as the other 
pole to imbecility, she has throughly explored. The massive silence of the full 
idiot is, unfortunately, out of her reach, of course. In her capacity of writer, or 
word-knitter, she has to stop short of that, and leave it to her friend Picasso. 
For words, idle words, have one terrible limitation — they must represent 
human speech in some form. The silent canvas is their master there. 

That, very briefly, is Miss Stein’s role in the child-cult, and the kindred 
one (Freud-inspired or not) of the demented. She is herself a robust 
intelligence, a colossus among the practitioners of infancy; a huge, lowering, 
dogmatic Child. The point of her writing is best seen, perhaps, in less 
intelligent imitators or homologues. Even by taking a quite flimsy writer in 
the same movement (both on account of psychology and technique) like Miss 
Loos, you will be helped to that essential simplification. 

My general objection, then, to the work of Miss Stein is that it is dead. 
My second objection is that it is romantic. As to the latter count, for all its 
force I feel it to be unreal in the same way that I feel Conrad or Zola to be, 
but without the rationale of the fictionist. It is the personal rhythm, the 
obvious bias, that of a peculiar rather than a universal nature, that produces 


this sensation. The dull frantic vitality of Zola is that of an inferior, a brutal, 
not a highly-organized, nature. The chocolate-cream richness of Conrad, 
the romance laid on with a shovel — best revealed where Mr. Hueffer helped 
him in the book specifically named Romance — all this excess, this tropical 
unreality, I find (of course, to some extent concealed in an elaborate 
intellectualist technique) in Miss Stein. 

As to the quality of deadness, that can be matched most exactly by 
comparison with contemporary painting, even the best. In The Caliph’s Design 
I have named this the nature-mortist school of painting. 

In Miss Stein you get a temperament on the grand scale, as you do in 
Picasso; they both enjoy the colossal, but if you compare one of Picasso’s 
giantesses (the first born about 1920, 1 believe) with a giant from the Sistine 
Ceiling, you will at once find that the Picasso figure is a beautifully executed, 
imposing, human doll. Its fixed imbecility of expression, its immense, bloated, 
euchoid limbs, suggest the mental clinic immediately. They are all opaque fat, 
without nerve or muscle. The figures of Michelangelo, on the other hand — 
the most supremely noble and terrible creations of the dramatic genius of the 
West — are creatures of an infectious life. Between the outstretched forefinger 
of Adam and the finger of the hurrying Jehovah, there is an electric force in 
suspense of a magnitude that no vegetative imbecility, however well done or 
however colossal, on one side and on the other, would be able to convey. 

The weight, then, that is characteristic of the work of Miss Stein — like the 
sluggish weight of the figures, or the sultry oppressiveness of the chocolate- 
cream tropics in which they move, of Conrad; or of the unintelligent, 
catastrophic heaviness of Zola — is, to me, of a dead order of things. But this 
kind of doll-like deadness, the torpid fatal heaviness, is so prevalent, in one 
form or another, as to dominate in a peculiar way the productions of the 
present time. Now that we have enough of it to generalize what was at first a 
sense only of the assembling of a peculiar consciousness into a formularized 
mass, we can study it as a very definite, clearly marked thing. It is the hall- 
mark of a great school. Wherever a member of the school grows ambitious — 
and in consequence colossal — he or she betrays this essential deadness. The 
reasons, of a sociologic order, for this, it is not my business, here, to analyse. 

The inner meanings of the child cult, again, as I have said, I am not 
undertaking to recapitulate in this place. For a certain restricted number of 
cases there is an explanation which suggests itself, and which I have not so 
far advanced, but it only applies to a few of the practitioners. Still it may be 
worth while to offer for what it is worth. 

About fifteen years ago there was a fashion for child- art. But it was the 
painting and writing of authentic children in the class-room that was sought 
out and popularized. The possible explanation of the child-art of to-day, then, 
is this. It may be that some of the present work of that description is what has 
been left over from that period. The authentic children of the time — finding, 
at that impressionable age, their childish ways so unexpectedly appreciated — 
may have gone on ever since on the same road. The personality of Miss Anita 


Loos, for instance, lends colour to this theory. Here is an interview with her, 
on her arrival ‘at London’ : — 


Anita staggers any one who sees her for the first time after reading her book. She is 
four-foot-something-high, weighs a mere six stone, and has the fresh face, wide eyes, and 
unsophisticated voice of a child. 

‘That gel looks twelve,’ said the scene-shifter who saw her directing a rehearsal for 
he new play. He was right. 

‘I am really twenty-six now,’ she whispered to me, ‘but I started writing when i was 
thirteen, and I don’t suppose I have really changed since.’ 

This certainly seems a clue to the childish technical habits of Miss Loos. 
The ‘four-feet-something’ of Miss Loos, again, may remind you of other tiny, 
but famous, personalities — the greatest of whom is Charlie Chaplin. And 
with a brief analysis of the causes of the triumphant success of that celebrated 
film-tramp, I will terminate this part of my scrutiny. 


CHAPTER XIV 

THE SECRET OF THE SUCCESS OF CHARLIE CHAPLIN 


T HE childish, puny stature of Chaplin — enabling him always to be 

the little David to the Goliath of some man chosen for his statuesque 
proportions — served him well. He was always the little-fellow-put- 
upon — the naif, child-like individual, bullied by the massive brutes by whom 
he was surrounded, yet whom he invariably vanquished. The fact that the 
giants were always vanquished; that, like the heroes of Ossian, they rode forth 
to battle (Against the Chaplins of this world), but that, like those distant 
Celtic heroes, they always fell, never, of course, struck the Public as pathetic, 
too. For the pathos of the Public is of a sentimental and also a naively selfish 
order. It is its own pathos and triumphs that it wishes to hear about. It seldom 
rises to an understanding of other forms of pathos than that of the kind 
represented by Chaplin, and the indirect reference to ‘greatness’ in a more 
general sense, conveyed by mere physical size, repels it. 

In this pathos of the small — so magnificently exploited by Charlie 
Chaplin — the ordinary ‘revolutionary’ motif for crowd-consumption is not 
far to seek. The Keystone giants by whom, in his early films, he was always 
confronted, who oppressed, misunderstood and hunted him, but whom he 
invariably overcame, were the symbols of authority and power. Chaplin is a 
great revolutionary propagandist. On the political side, the pity he awakens, 
and his peculiar appeal to the public, is that reserved for the small man. 

But no one can have seen a Chaplin film without being conscious 
also for something else, quite different from mere smallness. There was 
something much more positive than scale alone, or absence of scale, being 
put across, you would feel. First, of course, was the feeling that you were in 
the presence of an unbounded optimism (for one so small, poor and lonely). 
The combination of light-heartedness and a sort of scurrilous cunning, that 
his irresponsible epileptic shuffle gives, is overpowering. It is Pippa that is 
passing. God is in His Heaven; all’s well with the world (of Chaplins and all 
events). And, secondly, you would experience the utmost confidence in your 
little hero’s winning all his battles. The happy-ending (for the militant child- 
man) was foreshadowed in the awkward and stupid, lurching bulk of the 
Keystone giants; in the flea-like adroitness of their terrible little antagonist. It 
was the little skiff of Drake against the Armada over again. In brief, your hero 
was not only small, but very capable and very confident. Throughout he bore 
a charmed life. 

To the smallness, and to the charmed life, you now have to add the child- 
factor. Chaplin, the greatest screen artist, is a child-man, rather than merely 
a small man. That was his charm and the nature of his aesthetic appeal, as it 
were. His little doll-like face, his stuck-on toy moustache, his tiny wrists, his 
small body, are those of a child as much as is the ‘four-foot-something’ body 
of Miss Loos. And without the public being conscious of it, no doubt, it was 
as a child that he went to its heart, which, as far as the popular audience is 


concerned, is maternal. 

As to the sex-side of this psychology, it would be unscientific, if you like, 
to forget that the feminist revolution has been in progress all around the 
creative activities of this great clown, throughout his career. In Chaplin the 
simple woman would see clearly a symbol of her little arrogant Tommy — or 
little Charlie — giving that great, big, arrogant, troublesome bully, Dad (even 
if her particular ‘man’ was not a good specimen of the ruling-sex), a wallop. 
For the head of a crowd is like a pudding en surprise. Everything is put into it; 
it reacts to the spectacles that are presented to it partly under the direction of 
those spectacles, but mainly according to the directing synthesis of all that has 
fallen or been stuffed into it, coming from all that is going on around it. 

That, I think, is the way in which Chaplin endeared himself to the great 
public of the mass-democracy. But he is certainly mistaken in supposing that 
that was also the secret of Napoleon’s success. 

Perhaps in the success of Charlie Chaplin we have the heart of the secret 
of the child-fashion. It is at least strange ho many people answer to the 
Chaplin-Loos (wide-eyed, naif) standard. Even in physical stature it is strange 
how many have sprung up — or have not sprung up. And very many more 
lend their best energies to approximating as far as possible to this popular 
child-type. 

I think it is an age to be small in, said an intelligent flea, 

But I shall see! 


And on the other hand, the role of the giant, or a role involving any 
greatness, is deservedly unpopular. Men fly from suggestions of greatness as 
though such things were tainted, as indeed they are as proscribed. In their 
own bosoms they carefully stamp out all tell-tale traces of a suspect ambition. 

I do not wish to be personal, but the subject is such a very significant one 
that that objection must be overridden. Picasso, then, is very small as well; 
with, however, a slight napoleonic austerity lacking in Chaplin; though he has 
the same bright, darting, knowing eyes, the same appearance of microscopic 
competence. Ele is build on strictly infantile lines. I could name many more 
less-known people who answer to this description. Nature is certainly busy 
somewhere, and has been busy for a long time, turning these eternal sucklings 
out in the flesh, and not only in the spirit. What is Nature about? Why 
is she specializing in this manner? That is a question for the professional 
physiologist and psychologist. Those are, however, the facts; which an one, 
with a few hours to spare, can observe for themselves. At that, for the present, 
I will leave the problem of the infant cult. 


CHAPTER XV 

A MAN IN LOVE WITH THE PAST 


E ZRA POUND does not share the child-cult at all with the people I 
have been considering. But this does not mean that he is unorthodox. 
He is very orthodox. He would be miserable if he thought he was not 
conforming to anything that claimed the majority of educated people as its 
adherents, or slaves. The fiats and orders-of-the-day of the latest encyclical of 
fashion never would find Ezra disrespectful. He has never desired, himself, 
to interfere in these mysterious dispensations, or to challenge the invariable 
worthiness of their origin. At the most, as one Sphinx to another, he may 
have ventured a wink, and a slight cough. Nor would it ever so much as 
pass through his mind to set the fashion himself. He receives; his is the 
receptive role; he is the consumer, as he would say. It is we who produce; 
we as the creators; Ezra battens upon us. And he is the most gentlemanly, 
discriminating parasite I have ever had, personally, nor would I desire a 
cleaner or sweeter (as Wush would say), if he ever wishes for a testimonial. 

In the great Past there were creators, too; and there are few of them, from 
Sophocles to Cavalcanti, that Ezra has not pillaged. But I am sorry to say that 
I believe Ezra’s effective life-work is over, as I have already remarked; for there 
are not many left, and of late he has steadily weakened. 

But if any one supposes from these remarks, or if they think I mean, that 
Ezra Pound is anobody, he will be mistaken. Yet how he is a ‘somebody’ is a 
little difficult to define. Pound is that curious thing, a person without a trace 
of originality of any sort. It is impossible even to imagine him being any one 
in particular of all the people he has translated, interpreted, appreciated. 

When he writes about living people of his acquaintance as sometimes 
he has done, he shows himself possessed of a sort of conventional malice, 
perhaps, that says about them things that other people would say about 
them; but he never seems to have seen the individual at all. He sees people 
and things as other people would see them; there is no direct contact between 
Ezra and an individual person or thing. Ezra is a crowd; a little crowd. People 
are seen by him only as types. There is the ‘museum official,’ the ‘norman 
cocotte,’ and so on. By himself he would seem to have neither any convictions 
nor eyes in his head. There is nothing he intuits well, certainly never 
originally. Yet when he can get into the skin of somebody else, of power or 
renown, a Propertius or an Arnaut Daniel, he becomes a lion or a lynx on the 
spot. This sort of parasitism is with him phenomenal. 

Again, when he writes in person, as Pound, his phases are invariably 
stagey and false, as well as insignificant. There is the strangest air of insincerity 
about his least purely personal utterance; the ring of the superbest conviction 
when he is the mouthpiece of a scald or of a jongleur. 

The hosts of this great intellectual parasite, then, are legion; but in 
meeting Ezra you find yourself in the presence of a person who, if evidently 


not a source of life himself, has yet none of the unpleasant characteristics we 
associate with an organism dependent on others for its habitat and soil. He 
is such a ‘big bug’ in his class, that he has some of the airs of his masters. If 
thoroughly conventional, as you would expect of a good servant — his mind 
moving in grooves that have been made for it by his social milieu — he is not 
without personality, or a considerable and very charming sort. 

My way of accounting for these discrepancies is as follows: 

If Ezra Pound as a living individual were less worthy and admirable, I 
am convinced he would be unable to enter the renowned and noble creature 
whom he has passed his time in entering, so cleanly as he does — so faultlessly 
in places that you could not tell which is Pound and which is them. They or 
their genius or something that is in their work to guard it, would detect the 
imposture, and would certainly prevent him from working through vulgarity 
or sham in the essential Ezra. 

His dedication to his task has been fanatical. In order to slip in and out, 
as he does, in order to want to do so, so often as he has, and in such a great 
variety of cases, it was necessary for him — for his proper dedication to these 
men-gods — to be a kind of intellectual eunuch. That is my idea. 

So I like, respect, and, in a sense, reverence Ezra Pound; I have found him 
a true, disinterested and unspoilt individual. He has not effected this intimate 
entrance into everything that is noble and enchanting for nothing. He has 
really walked with Sophocles beside the Aegean; he has seen the Florence of 
Cavalcanti; there is almost nowhere in the Past that he has not visited; he has 
been a great time-trotter, as we could describe this new kind of tourist. And he 
is not unworthy, in himself, of these many privileges. 

But where the Present is concerned it is a different matter. He is 
extremely untrustworthy where that is concerned. That is the penalty of his 
function, like that of the eunuch instanced above. When he tries to be up-to- 
date it is a very uncomfortable business. And because his conventional, and 
so accepts counterfeit readily where no standard has been established, he is a 
danger as far as he exerts any contemporary influence. He should not be taken 
seriously as a living being at all. Life is not his true concern, his gifts are all 
turned in the other direction. ‘In his chosen or fated field he bows to no one,’ 
to use his words. But his field is purely that of the dead. As the nature mortist, 
or painter essentially of still-life, deals for preference with life-that-is-still, that 
has not much life, so Ezra for preference consorts with the dead, whose life is 
preserved for us in books and pictures. He has never loved anything living as 
he has loved the dead. 

If this account of him is true, it is obvious how unfit he is to deal with 
living material at all. He has so much the habit of unquestioning obedience 
and self-effacement, that he cannot at all manage the unruly shaping of 
things that are in-the-making, and which demand of him also some effort 
of a creative sort — ask him to set them limits, or direct them even. Ezra, in 
such a situation, is at his wits’ end. He squints at them with an affectation of 
shrewdness, squares his shoulders, shouts something shrill and incoherent, but 


contributes nothing to the situation. 

Before leaving Pound I feel it would be best to illustrate the foregoing 
observations a little. His best translations (the Seafarer, for instance) are 
classics. It is to his more mixed work that I will go for my extracts. First I will 
draw attention to a point in the less disintegrated of that mixed type of work, 
where the translation element predominates. 

The reader is no doubt familiar with the word terse’ in its canting sense. 
‘He was rather terse with me,’ people say. This can be otherwise expressed, 

‘He was short with me.’ ‘Terse’ and ‘short’ are ways of expressing the laconic 
manner of a person who is annoyed, and in consequence uses few words, 
perhaps sarcastically. (Brevity or conciseness is the original meaning of terse.) 

Here is an example of a man being ‘terse’ with another. Two doctors, Dr. 
Mann and Dr. Samuels, had a dispute as to whether a patient had fractured 
his collar-bone or not. In reporting their telephone conversation to a 
magistrate, Dr. Samuels said, ‘Dr. Mann replied, “Tosh and nonsense.’” That 
was an extreme form of the explosive variety of ‘terseness,’ of a conventional, 
professional type. 

Now a kind of mock-bitter, sententious terseness characterizes most of 
Pound’s semi-original verse, and even mars some of his tranlations. And 
then there is the ‘terseness’ that enlivens his journalism, which must be 
distinguished from the other more fundamental ‘terseness’ to which I am now 
drawing attention. In his journalism his ‘terseness’ is of much the same order 
as Dr. Mann’s; it is of a breezy and boisterous order. For example, such violent 
expressions as ‘bunk, junk, spoof, mush, slush, tosh, bosh,’ are favourites with 
him; and he remains convinced that such over-specifically manly epithets are 
universally effective, in spite of all proof to the contrary. But it is not that sort 
of ‘terseness’ to which I wished to refer. 

The other, more fundamental, ‘terseness’ of Pound is also of a sententious 
and, by implication, ‘manly’ order. It seems to me to make his better personal 
verse (as distinguished from his translations) very monotonous, and give it all 
a rather stupid ring. It is not, of course, the nature of meter chosen to which 
I am referring, but the melodramatic, chopped, ‘bitter’ tone suggested by the 
abrupt clipping and stopping to which he is addicted. It is the laconicism of 
the strong silent man. Were he a novelist, you would undoubtedly find the 
description ‘He broke off repeatedly used. In his verse he is always ‘breaking 
off.’ And he ‘breaks off,’ indeed, as a rule, twice in every line. 

Cave of Nerea 

She like a great shell curved. 

And the boat drawn without a sound 
Without odour of ship-work, 

Nor bird-cry, nor any noise of wave moving. 

Nor splash of porpoise, nor any noise of wave moving, 

Within her cave, Nerea, 

She like a great shell curved. 


That actually seems to belong to the repetitive hypnotic method 
of Miss Stein and Miss Loos. ‘She like a great shell curved,’ and the 
‘any noise of wave moving,’ both repeated, are in any case swinburnian 
stage-properties. The whole passage with its abrupt sententious pauses 
is unpleasantly reminiscent of the second-rate actor accustomed to take 
heavy and emotional parts. Perhaps in this next quotation it will be 
seen better what I mean : — 


Now supine in burrow, half over-arched bramble, 
One eye for the sea, through that peek-hole, 

Gray light, with Athene. 

Zothar, and her elephants, the gold loin-cloth, 
The systrum, shaken, shaken, 

the cohort of her dancers. 
And Aletha, by bend of the shore, 

with her eyes seaward, 
and in her hands sea-wrack 
Salt-bright. 


How you are supposed to read this, of course, is with great stops 
upon — burrow, bramble, peek-hole, gray light, Athene, Zothar, elephants, loin- 
cloth, systrum, shaken, dancers, Aletha, seaward, sea-wrack, salt bright. The 
way the personnel of the poem are arranged, sea-wrack in the hand of one, 
Aletha ‘with her eyes seaward,’ the gold loin-cloth of another, etc., makes 
it all effectively like a spirited salon-picture, gold framed and romantically 
‘classical.’ It is full of ‘sentiment,’ as is the Cave of Nerea; it is all made up of 
well-worm stage-properties; and it is composed upon a series of histrionic 
pauses, intended to be thrilling and probably beautiful. 

These extracts are from Cantos XVIII. -XIX., and made their appearance 
in the Q. Review. Here is a specimen of Pound’s more intimate verse (taken 
from the same place) : — 


And the answer to that is: Wa’al he had the ten thousand. 
And old Spinder, that put up the 1870 gothick memorial, 

He tried to pull me on Marx, and he told me 
About the ‘romance ofhis business’;... So I sez: 

Waal haow is it you’re over here, right off the Champz Elyza? 
And how can yew be here? Why don’t the fellers at home 
Take it all off you?. . . 

‘Oh’ he sez, ‘I ain’t had to rent any money. . . 

‘It’s a long time since I ain’t had tew rent any money.’ 


All Pound’s comic reliefs speak the same tongue; they are all jocose 
and conduct their heavy german-american horseplay in the same personal 
argot of Pound. They can never have illumined anything but the most half- 
hearted smile (however kindly) rather at Pound than at them. Their thick 
facetiousness is of the rollicking slap-on-the-back order, suggesting another 
day and another scene to ours. If there were better done and less conventional 


in their broad unreality they would be welcome, like belated red-nosed 
comedians in the midst of a series of turns too strictly designed to meet the 
ultra-feminine drawing-room-entertainment taste, as a contrast. But they are 
not spirited enough to serve even that purpose. They are a caricature of Pound 
attempting to deal with real life — they are Pound at his worst. 

If Pound had not a strain of absolutely authentic naivete in him, had he 
possessed the sort of minor sociable qualities that make the trivial adjustments 
of the social world an open book to their possessor, he could not write in this 
clumsy and stupid way, when attempting to stage scenes from contemporary 
life. So though they represent Pound the artist at his worst, they show us, I 
believe, the true Pound, or that part that has not become incorporated in his 
best highly traditional poetry. And a simpleton is what we are left with. That 
natural and unvarnished, unassimilable Pound, is the true child, which so 
many people in vain essay to be. But some inhibition has prevented him from 
getting that genuine naif (which would have made him a poet) into his work. 
There, unfortunately, he always attitudinizes, frowns, struts, looks terribly 
knowing, ‘breaks off,’ shows off, pulls himself out, and so obscures that really 
simple, charming creature that he is. 


CHAPTER XVI 

AN ANALYSIS OF THE MIND OF JAMES JOYCE 


T HE work of Mr. Joyce enters in various ways as a specimen into the 
critical scheme I am outlining. What I have to say will not aim at 
estimating his general contribution to contemporary letters. I prefer 
his writing to that of Miss Stein, that may as well be set down at once. It does 
not suffer from the obsessional afflatus that I have noticed in the latter. It has 
more elasticity and freedom; it is much less psychological, it is more physical. 
His vices of style, as I understand it, are due rather to his unorganized 
susceptibility to influences, and especially from the quarter I have been 
discussing (Miss Stein has influenced him, for instance), than to a native 
shortcoming. 

I cannot see that any work of Joyce — except Ulysses — is very significant. 

It was about six or seven years ago that I first became acquainted with his 
writing. The Portrait of the Artist seemed to me like a rather cold and priggish 
book. It was well done, like the Dubliners, which I have just read; and that 
was all, that I could discover. Chamber Music would certainly not have 
secured its author a place ‘among the english poets,’ — it would hardly even 
have set the Liffey on fire for five minutes. No writing of his before Ulysses 
would have given him anything but an honorable position as the inevitable 
naturalist-french-influenced member of the romantic Irish Revival — a 
Maupassant of Dublin, but without the sinister force of Flaubert’s disciple. 

Ulysses was in a sense a different thing altogether. How far that is an 
effect of a merely technical order, resulting from stylistic complications and 
intensified display, with a Dubliners basis unchanged, or, further, a question of 
scale, and mechanical heaping up of detail, I should have only partly to decide 
here. But it places him — on that point every one is in agreement — very high 
in contemporary letters. 

Its evident importance, its success, induced people to go outside the 
contemporary field for their analogies; and, to start with, it may be as well to 
remove from our path a few of the unnecessary names at that time, in the first 
generous flush of praise, injudiciously imported. Ireland, of course, furnished 
the most obvious comparisons. 

So, to start with, Joyce is not a homologue of Swift. That is a strange 
mistake. There is very little of the specific power of that terrible personage, 
that terribilita, in the amiable authors of Ulysses. Another writer with whom 
he has been compared, and whom he is peculiarly unlike, is Flaubert. But to 
mention all the authors with whom Joyce has been matched would take an 
appreciable time. So I will rather attempt to find his true affinities. The choice 
would lie, to my mind, somewhere etween Robert Fouis Stevenson and 
Faurence Sterne, if you imagine those writesrs transplanted into a heavily- 
freudianized milieu, and subjected to all the influences resulting in the rich, 
confused ferment of Ulysses. 


Contact with any of his writing must, to begin with, shows that we are 
not in the presence of a tragic writer, of the description of Dostoievsky or 
of Flaubert. He is genial and comic; a humorous writer of the traditional 
English School — in tempter, at his best, very like Sterne. But he has the 
technical itch of the ‘sedulous ape’ — the figure under which Stevenson (with 
peculiar modesty, it is true) revealed himself to his readers. The impression 
produced by his earlier books, merely as writing, is very like that of a page of 
Stevenson — not of Stevenson ‘apeing,’ but of the finished, a little too finished, 
article. 

Ulysses, on the technical side, is an immense exercise in style, an orgy 
of ‘apeishness, ’decidedly ‘sedulous.’ It is an encyclopaedia of english literary 
technique, as well as a general-knowledge paper. The schoolmaster in Joyce is 
in great evidence throughout its pages. 

Next, as to his position among the celebrated group of Irishmen 
contemporary with himself, or his immediate predecessors, that is now fairly 
well defined. What has distinguished all the famous irish literary figures 
of recent years, whether Wilde, Shaw or Yeats, has been the possession of 
what we call ‘personality.’ This really amounts to a vein of picturesqueness, 
an instinct for the value of the person in the picture, which dominates 
them, externally at all events. And they have probably always been led into 
making a freer use of this than would a Frenchman, for instance, of the 
same calibre, owing to the self effacing, unassuming, over-plain habits of 
the english background, against which they have had to perform. Or it may 
have been that, as isolated adventurers — when they had passed from Ireland 
and descended into Piccadilly Circus, thenceforth watched by an Empire on 
which the sun never sets — they were as a matter of course mere persons, as 
contrasted with the new alien crowds they were amongst. This florid personal 
aplomb is, however, now expected of the Irishman by his english audience — 
although, owing to the political separation of the two countries, probably 
those times of genial interplay are passed. 

Mr. Joyce is by no means without the ‘personal touch.’ But in a sense he 
is not the ‘personality’ that Shaw or Yeats is, or that Wilde was. But that is in 
conformity with his role, which is a very different one from theirs. Joyce is 
the poet of the shabby-genteel, impoverished intellectualism of Dublin. His 
world is the small middle-class one, decorated with a little futile ‘culture,’ of 
the supper and dance-party in The Dead. Wilde, more brilliantly situated, 
was an extremely metropolitan personage, a man of the great social work, 
a great lion of the London drawing-room. Joyce is steeped in the sadness 
and the shabbiness of the pathetic gentility of the upper shopkeeping class, 
slumbering at the bottom of a neglected province; never far, in its snobbishly 
circumscribed despair, from the pawn-shop and the ‘pub.’ 

Shaw, again, escaped early form his provincial surroundings. Joyce 
resembles him in some striking particulars; but the more recent figure, this 
quiet, very positive, self-collected irish schoolmaster, with that well-known 
air of genteel decorum and bienseance of the irish middle-class, with his ‘if 


you pleases’ and ‘no thank-yous,’ his ceremonious Mister-this and Mister- 
that, is remote from what must have been the strapping, dashing George 
Bernard Shaw of the shavian heyday He is also quite unlike the romantic, 
aristocratical, magic-loving William Butler Yeats. 

Shaw is much more a world-figure; but Joyce and Yeats are the prose 
and poetry respectively of the Ireland that culminated in the Rebellion, yeats 
is the chivalrous embodiment of the Celtic’ romance, more of St. Brandon 
than of Ossian, with all the grand manners of a spiritual Past that cannot 
be obliterated, though it wear thin, and of a dispossessed and persecuted 
people. Joyce is the cold and stagnant reality at which that people had at last 
arrived in its civilized Reservation, with all the snobbish pathos of such a 
condition, the intense desire to keep-up-appearances at all costs, to be ladylike 
and gentlemanly, in spite of a beggared position — above which that yeatsian 
emanation floats. 

But on the purely personal side, Joyce possesses a good deal of the 
intolerant arrogance of the dominie, veiled with an elaborate decency 
beneath the formal calm of the jesuit, left over as a handy property from his 
early years of catholic romance — of that irish variety that is so english that it 
seems stranger to a continental almost than its english protestant counterpart. 

The Ireland that culminated in the Rebellion reached that event, however, 
in a very divided state. There was an artificial, pseudo-historical air about 
the Rebellion, as there was inevitably about the movement of Celtic’ revival; 
it seemed to be forced and vamped up long after its poignant occasion had 
passed. As elsewhere in Europe, the fanatical ‘nationalist’ consciousness 
invoked, seemed belated and unreal. Joyce was, I understand, against Sinn 
Fein. In his autobiographical books you obtain an unambiguous expression 
of his attitude in the matter. In the Portrait of the Artist , where the nationalist, 
Davin, is talking to him, Stephen (the author of whom that is a self-portrait 
as a young man) says : — 

‘My ancestors threw off their language and took another Stephen said. They 
allowed a handful of foreigners to subject them. Do you fancy I am going to pay in my 
own life and person debts they made? What for?’ 

‘For our freedom,’ said Davin. 

‘No honourable and sincere man,’ said Stephen, ‘has given up to you his life and 
his youth and his affections from the days of Tone to those of Parnell, but you sold him 
to the enemy or failed him in need or reviled him and left him for another. And you 
invite me to be one of you. I’d see you damned first.’ 


A little later Stephen remarks: ‘You talk to me of nationality, language, 
religion. I shall try to fly by those nets.’ So from the start the answer of Joyce 
to the militant nationalist was plain enough. And he showed himself in that a 
very shrewd realist indeed, beset as Irishmen have been for so long with every 
romantic temptation, always being invited by this interested party or that, to 
jump back into ‘history.’ So Joyce is neither of the militant ‘patriot’ type, nor 
yet a historical romancer. In spite of that he is very ‘irish.’ He is ready enough, 


as a literary artist, to stand for Ireland, and has wrapped himself up in a 
gigantic cocoon of local colour in Ulysses. 

It is at this point that we reach one of the fundamental questions of value 
brought out by his work. Although entertaining the most studied contempt 
for his compatriots — individually and in the mass — whom he did not regard 
at all as exceptionally brilliant and sympathetic creatures (in a green historical 
costume, with a fairy hovering near), but as average human cattle with irish 
accent instead of a scotch or welsh, it will yet be insisted on that his irishness 
is an important feature of his talent; and he certainly also does exploit his 
irishness and theirs. 

The appreciation of any author is, of course, largely composed of 
adventitious sentiment. For his vogue to last, or ever to be a serious one, he 
must have some unusual literary gift. With that he reaches a considerable 
renown. But then people proceed to admire him for something equally 
possessed by a quantity of other people, or for reasons that have nothing to 
do with, or which even contradict, his gifts. So Englishmen or Frenchmen 
who are inclined to virulent ‘nationalism,’ and disposed to sentiment where 
local colour is concerned, will admire Joyce for his alleged identify with what 
he detached himself from and even repudiated, when it took the militant, 

Sinn Fein form. And Joyce, like a shrewd sensible man, will no doubt 
encourage them. That, however, will not at all help us to be clear about this 
very confused issue. Nor should we be very certain, if we left the matter in 
that state, in our valuation of Joyce. We should find ourselves substituting 
orthodox political reactions for the idea of fanatical ‘nationalism’ (which it is 
quite evident holds little reality for Joyce) for direct reactions to what is in his 
work a considerable achievement of art. 

2. Flere, then, we reach one of the most obvious critical traps, and at the 
same time one of the main things requiring a decisive reply, in his work. What 
makes the question of capital importance is the problem set throughout the 
world to-day by the contradiction involved in (1) a universal promotion of 
‘nationalism, which seems to take, even in great cosmopolitan states, an ever 
more intolerant form, and (2) the disappearance of national characteristics 
altogether as a consequence of technical progress. 

Everywhere the peoples become more and more alike. Local colours, 
which have endured in many places for two thousand years, fade so 
quickly that already one uniform grey tint has supervened. The astonishing 
advances in applied science and in industrial technique made this inevitable. 
Simultaneously, and in frenzied contradiction, is the artificial fostered 
nationalism rampant throughout the world since the War. So while in reality 
people become increasingly one nation (for the fact that they are fanatically 
‘nationalist’; does not prevent them from approximating more and more 
closely to the neighbours against whom, in their abstract rage, they turn) they 
ideologically grow more aggressively separatist, and conscious of ‘nationality.’ 

The same process, of course, may be observed in ‘class-war.’ A Restoration 


courtier was very unlike the Restoration workman, as men go; whereas the 
contemporary magnate, in appearance, culture, manners and general taste is 
hardly to be distinguished from the average workman on his estate or in his 
factory. But the more social distinctions of a real order disappear, the more 
artificial ‘class-consciousness’ asserts itself. 

That sort of contradiction is paralleled through our life. There is no 
department that is exempt from the confusions of this strategy — which 
consists essentialy in removing something necessary to life and putting an 
ideologic simulacrum where it was able to deceive the poor animal, who 
notices it in its usual place and feels that all is well, but which yet perplexes 
and does not satisfy him. The ‘sex-war’ illustrates this as plainly the ‘class- 
war.’ The ‘sex-war’ illustrates this as plainly as the ‘class-war.’ For example, the 
Y.M.C.A. meeting at the Helsingfors (November 1926) starts a discussion 
on that stock subject with all religious bodies — the naughty thrill of which 
never diminishes — the ‘modern woman.’ So ‘short hair and short skirts were 
attacked,’ the New York Herald reports. But the objectors were overruled, it 
being decided, in the end, that ‘women are asserting their right to develop 
personality unhampered,’ by these means. 

Leaving aside the comedy implicit in the mischievous journalese of the 
statement (namely, the highly-specialized nature of the ‘personality’ to be 
‘developed’ by those methods), we can state the facts at stake in this way: 
according to the laws of specialization, the more a woman complicates 
her attire, the more she ‘develops her personality.’ The nude is a platonic 
abstraction. A thousand naked women on a beach, such as Borrow once 
saw, in Spain, would be a thousand abstractions, or one great palpitating 
abstraction, compared with the same number dressed in a ‘personal’ way, and 
so more and more differentiated from each other. ‘Personality,’ therefore, is 
clearly the wrong word. Its sentimental use falsified what is happening. 

But it is the abstraction, of course, that is required, to-day, of every human 
being. To ‘develop the personality’ is an alluring invitation, but it invariably 
covers some process that is guaranteed to strip a person bare of all ‘personality’ 
in a fortnight. This does not seem to me necessarily a bad thing. I am only 
pointing out that his excellent result is obtained by fraud. So we must not 
take that fraud too seriously, however much we may applaud its aims. 

But in the general arrangements made for our sex-life, there is this 
little contradiction also to be noted — that the otherwise popular nation of 
specialization of function (the key to the syndicalist doctrine) is taboo. The 
rationale of that taboo is that it is desired to turn people’s minds away from 
sex altogether eventually. They are insidiously urged in a neuter direction. 
William Blake foresaw that development, with his prophet’s eye, with a 
laudable equanimity. The anesthetizing of the cruder desires and ambitions by 
closer disciplines is, after all, the only alternative to a rationalizing of impulses 
not excised. However that may be, ‘sex’ is in the same category as that of the 
family; it can hardly survive as it is. The family costs too much, and ‘sex’ is a 
very costly luxury, too. Its expensive ecstasies and personal adornment must 


go in the end. The supposed encouragement of them to-day is illusory 

The savage with only a loin-cloth is notoriously chaste, and even prudish, 
strange as at first that sounds. From every quarter of the world evidence of 
this is forthcoming. Havelock Ellis has collected its evidence in a pamphlet, 
with Modesty among primitive people , or some such title. The more clothes 
people have, and the colder the climate, the more ‘immoral’ they become; 
that is now generally established, but not widely enough known to have an 
enlightening effect where what we are discussing is concerned: so attracted 
by the lure of the ‘immoral,’ everybody in the end will be induced to become 
more moral, simply-clothed, well-behaved and inexpensive. 

So you obtain, up to date, in our feminized world, the following result: 
every woman is conscious of being a very daring and novel being, and ‘sex,’ 
and even sexishness, it is universally believed, is more prominent than ever 
before, because of the ‘short skirts,’ etc., discussed so acrimoniously at the 
Y.M.C.A. meeting, and which are thundered at by a thousand idiots to empty 
pews throughout the puritan world; and even the Pope chases ‘short skirts’ 
from St. Peter’s. Few people have yet perceived that not only is the present 
fashion in its effect more chaste (that a ‘comrade’ or ‘chum is hardly as intense 
a thing on principle as a ‘lover,’ to arrive at it by way of popular catchwords), 
but that the intention behind the fiats of fashion, leading to ‘short skirts,’ 
etc., is hardly to debauch the world. It is much rather intended to uniform 
and discipline it, to teach it to be neat and handy, to induce it to dispense with 
that costly luxury, 'personality, ’ instead of to ‘develop’ it, as it pretends-, to train 
people to be satisfied to be just like their neighbours, hat for hat, and button 
for button, and finally to be active, so that they can work. Skirts are short for 
work, not love. That is the principle to grasp beneath all the concentrated 
flattery directed upon the revolutionary amazon leading her sex to victory in a 
glorious ‘war’ or social revolution. So the fashion is much more sensible than 
it affects to be, but also much less romantic. 

This long excursion into the process of of sex-politics has been justified, 

I think, by the light it throws upon the other questions belonging to the 
main stream of our present argument. I will now return to the contradiction 
subsisting between doctrinaire ‘nationalism,’ and the conditions of 
international uniformity created by scientific advance. 

The adventitious stimulus given to the historic sense, the imposition of 
this little picturesque flourish or that, a patina like that manufactured for 
the faking of ‘antiques’ (a good example is the ‘roman’ veneer in fascist Italy) 
goes hand and hand by side with a world-hegemony, externally uniform and 
producing more every day a common culture. 

It is headlong into this sheer delusion, which makes a nonsense of our 
continued civilized advance (unless you repudiate the idea of advance, and 
substitute that of mere fashionable change), that we are running, every time 
that we essay to found our view of things upon some harmonious and precise 
picture. We all immediately into that trap of an abstraction coloured to look 
concrete, and placed where once there was something but where now there is 


nothing. 

The romantic persons who go picking about in the Arran Islands, 
Shetlands, the Basque Provinces, or elsewhere, for genuine human ‘antiques,’ 
are to-day on a wild-goose chase; because the sphinx of the Past, in the 
person of some elder dug out of such remote neighbourhoods, will at length, 
when he has found his tongue, probably commence addressing them in the 
vernacular of the Daily Mail. For better or for worse, local colour is now a 
thin mixture; it does not inhere in what it embellishes, but is painted on, 
often with a clumsy insolence. It suits the political intelligence with its 
immemorial device, divide et impera, to encourage it, but its application to the 
conditions of mind and to the external nature of the machine-age becomes 
more and more fantastic. 

There is nothing for it to-day, if you have an appetite for the beautiful, 
but to create new beauty. You can no longer nourish yourself upon the Past; its 
stock is exhausted, the Past is nowhere a reality. The only place where it is a 
reality is in time, not certainly in space. So the mental world of time offers a 
solution. More and more it is used as a compensating principle. 

From this devastating alternative — the creation of new beauty — most 
people shrink in horror. ‘Create!’ they exclaim. ‘As though it were not already 
difficult enough to live’! — But it is questionable if even bare life is possible, 
denuded of all meaning. And the meaning put into it by millenial politics of 
the current type is as unsubstantial as a mist on a Never-Never landscape. 

Flow these remarks apply to what we are discussing will be obscured 
for some readers at first by the fact of the challenging novelty of the work in 
question. But the local colour, or locally-coloured material, that was scraped 
together into a big variegated heap to make Ulysses, is — doctrinally even 
more than in fact — the material of the Past. It is consciously the decay of a 
mournful province, with in addition the label of a twenty-year-old vintage, of 
a ‘lost time,’ to recommend it. The diffraction of this lump of local colour for 
the purposes of analysis will in the end isolate the time quality, revealing the 
main motive of its collection. 

3. Before turning to the more personal factors in the composition of 
Ulysses, I will briefly state what I have been approaching in the first phase of 
my analysis. 

I regard Ulysses as a time-book-, and by that I mean that it lays its emphasis 
upon, for choice manipulates, and in a doctrinaire manner, the self-conscious 
time-sense, that has now been erected into a universal philosophy. This it does 
beneath a spell of a similar creative impulse to that by which Proust worked. 
The classical unities of time and place are buried beneath its scale, however, 
and in this All-life-in-a-day scheme there is small place for them. Yet at the 
outset they are solemnly insisted upon as a guiding principle to be fanatically 
observed. And certainly some barbarous version of the classical formula is at 
work throughout, like a conserted daimon attending the author, to keep him 
obsessionally faithful to the time-place, or space-time, programme. 


The genteel-demotic, native subject-matter of Mr. Joyce assists him to 
a great deal of intense, sad, insipid, local colour. An early life-experience 
that had removed him from the small middle-class milieu would also have 
removed him from his local colour, and to a less extent from his time-factor. 
To this he adds the legendary clatter and bustle of Donnybrook Fair. Beyond 
that he is not above stealing a few fairies from Mr. Yeats, and then sending 
them in the company of Dr. Freud to ride a broomstick on the Brocken. 
Adventures of that order, in the middle of te book, take us still further from 
the ideal of the Unities, and both Space and Time temporarily evaporate. 

But on the whole the reader is conscious that he is beneath the intensive 
dictatorship of Space-time — the god of Professor Alexander and such a great 
number of people, in fact, that we can almost be said to be treading on holy 
ground when we compose ourselves to read a work dedicated to that deity, 
either in philosophy or fiction. 

That Joyce and Proust are both dedicated to Time is generally 
appreciated, of course; Joyce is often compared to Proust on that score. 

Both Proust and Joyce exhibit, it is said, the exasperated time-sense of the 
contemporary man of the industrial age; which is undeniable, if the outward 
form of their respective work is alone considered. The ardent recapitulation 
of a dead thing — though so recently dead, and not on its own merits a very 
significant one — and as much the ‘local colour as what may be called the local 
time, ally them. But having got so far, I should put in a qualification which 
would, I think, unexpectedly discriminate these two methods. 

4. I will interject at this point a note on the subject of the temporal 
equivalent of ‘local colour,’ since I have had occasion to refer to it once or 
twice. I will not enter into the confusing discussion of which is space and 
which time in any given complex. I will suppose that there is some partly 
discreet quality which can come under the separate head of ‘time,’ and so for 
certain purposes be something else than the ‘local colour.’ 

The psychological time, or duration, this mood that is as fixed as the 
matter accompanying it, is as romantic and picturesque as is ‘local colour,’ 
and usually as shallow a thing as that. Some realization of this essential. 

We can posit a time-district, as it were, just as much as we can a place with its 
individual physical properties. And neither is the local colour, nor the local 
time of the time-district, is what is recorded sub specie aeternitatis, it is 
unnecessary to say. 

Both may, however, become obsessions, and are so, I believe, to-day. But 
that is merely — that is my argument — because people are in the process of 
being locked into both places and times. (This can be illustrated, where place 
is concerned, in the way that Signor Mussolini is locking the Italians into 
Italy, and refusing them passports for abroad.) 

We are now sufficiently prepared and can educe the heart of this 
obscure organism that so overshadows contemporary thought, by showing 
its analogies. That the time-fanaticism is in some way connected with the 


nationalisms and the regionalisms which are politically so much in evidence, 
and so intensively cultivated, seems certain — since ‘time’ is also to some 
extent a region, or it can be regarded in that light. We have spoken of a time- 
district, and that is exact. Professor Whitehead uses the significant phrase 
‘mental climate.’ This is by no means a fanciful affiliation; for time and place 
are the closest neighbours, and what happens to one is likely to be shared by 
the other. And if that is so, the time-mind would be much the same as the 
geographic one, fanatically circumscribing this or that territorial unit with a 
superstitious exclusiveness, an aggressive nationalist romance. Has not time- 
romance, or a fierce partisanship on behalf of a time , a family likeness, at least, 
with similar partisanship on behalf of a place? 

And then, too, the so much mocked and detested non-nationalist, 
universal mind (Whose politics would be goethean, we can say, to place 
them, and whose highest tolerance would approximate to that best seen in the 
classical Chinese intelligence) would have to be reckoned with — once the time- 
mind had been isolated by a thorough analysis, and its essential antagonisms 
exposed. These two types of mind would be found confronted, eternally 
hostile to each other, or at least eternally different — for the hostility would 
be more noticeable on the side of the partisan, the ‘time’ mind, the mind of 
fashion, than on the side of the other. This is all that I shall say on this very 
interesting point, for the moment. 

The philosophy of the space-timeist is identical with the old, and as 
many people had hoped, exploded, bergsonian philosophy of psychological 
time (or duree, as he called it). It is essential to grasp this continuity between 
the earlier flux of Bergson, with its Time-god, and the einsteinian flux, with 
its god, Space-time. Alexander, and his pupil Whitehead, are the best-known 
exponents, of philosophers writing in English, of these doctrines. It will not 
require a very close scrutiny of Space Time and Deity, for instance, and then 
of some characteristic book of Bergson’s, to assure that you are dealing with 
minds of the same stamp. 

Temperamentally — emotionally, that is, and emotion is as important 
in philosophy as in other things — the earlier bergsonian, such as Peguy, 
for instance, and the relativist or space-timeist, are identical. The best 
testimony of this is the enthusiastic reception given by Bergson, the old 
time-philosopher, to Einstein, the later space-timeist. He recognized his god, 
Duration, cast into the imposing material of a physical theory, improved 
and amalgamated with Space, in a more insidious unity than he had been 
able to give to his paramount philosophic principle. Similarly the attitude of 
Whitehead, Alexander and so forth, where Bergson is concerned, is noticeably 
one of a considered respect, very different from the atmosphere of disrepute 
into which Bergson had fallen prior to the triumph of Relativity Theory. The 
so-called ‘Emergent’ principle of Lloyd Morgan, adopted by Alexander and 
the rest, is our old friend ‘Creative Evolution.’ 

So from, say, the birth of Bergson to the present day, one vast orthodoxy 
has been in process of maturing in the world of science and philosophy. The 


material had already collected into a considerably patrimony by the time 
Bergson was ready to give it a philosophic form. The Darwinian Theory and 
all the background of nineteenth-century materialistic thought was already 
behind it. Under the characteristic headings Duration and Relativity the 
nineteenth century mechanistic belief has now assumed a final form. It is 
there for any one to study at his leisure, and to take or leave. It will assume, 
from time to time, many new shapes, but it will certainly not change its 
essential nature again till its doomsday; for I believe that in it we have reached 
one of the poles of the human intelligence, the negative, as it were. So it is 
deeply rooted, very ancient, and quite defined. 

In this part of my essay I am not developing my purely philosophic 
argument more fully than is necessary for the purposes of the literary 
criticism. I leave my attitude in the ‘time’ discussion as an announcement of 
principle, at once to supply the outline of the position such an announcement 
involves. And the reader who is not conversant with those theories would 
not be much the wiser at the end of such brief analysis as I should be 
able to supply in this place. The plan I am following is to help the reader 
to an inductive understanding of the principle involved, in the course of 
this analysis of its literary and artistic expression. With Spengler the more 
technical region is reached. And after that the philosophical analysis is begun. 

I hope to have interested the reader sufficiently in the questions involved to 
take him with me into that. 

5. The psychological history of the triumph of an idea is interesting to 
follow; and it is necessary to acquire some knowledge of those processes. To 
understand how ideas succeed you must first consider what that ‘success’ 
implies, especially with reference to this particular age. You would have to 
ask yourself who those men are who profess them, the manner in which they 
get advertised, the degree of orthodoxy imposed, and by what means, at the 
moment. Then, behind that professional and immediate ring of supporters, 
the mass of people who blindly receive them on faith — as helpless, confronted 
with the imposing machinery of their popularization, as new-born children — 
they, too, would have to be studied, and their reactions registered. 

Some such analysis of the domination achieved by an idea and how 
it ceases to be an idea, and becomes an ideology, as Napoleon called it, an 
instrument of popular government, has to be undertaken before you can 
hope to be in a position to meet on equal terms, without superstition, such 
prevalent intellectual fashions. If you are that of that great majority who ask 
nothing better than to have intellectual fashions provided for them — with 
little handbooks describing which way up the idea (if a ‘difficult’ one) should 
be worn, whether it should be worn with a flourish or a languish, with a 
simper or a pout, with fanatical intensity or an easy catholic grace — then you 
will have no use, it is needless to say, for such an arduous analytical discipline. 
It is only if you belong to that minority who care for ideas for their own sake, 
if you are philosophic in the truest sense, possessing a personal life that tis 


not satisfied with the old-clothes shop, or its companion, the vast ready-made 
emporium, that this procedure will have any meaning for you. 

The physical or philosophical theory in the ascendant at any moment is 
humbly and reverently picked up, in an abridged, and usually meaningless, 
form, by the majority of people. So it was with Darwin, so it is with Einstein. 
Apart form questions of expert qualification, few people are able to appreciate 
all that is involved in such theories. There is certainly never a question in their 
mind of ‘doubting’ it. It is not a thing to doubt, but one that is either easy or 
impossible to understand, as the case may be. To repudiate it would be a still 
wilder presumption. It has to be ‘studied’ in the few spare minutes that most 
people consider may be saved for such things from parties, gold, motoring 
and bridge, or the Russian Ballet. Then they will say in conversation, ‘It 
appears that there is no such thing as time’; or ‘Everything is relative, Einstein 
says. I always thought it was.’ (Relativity seldom involves much more than 
that to people.) More often than not the professors, who adopt and expound 
whatever theory has just succeeded, examine it as little. It amuses them; 
professors, like other people, have their amusements — their work is theirs. It 
is uncomfortable to be unorthodox, life is short, science is long, much longer 
than art; that is sufficient. 

When such a dominant theory is applied in literature or in art, then, 
certainly, even less does any one grasp the steps by which that theory has 
entered the mind of the author or artist; has either been welcomed at once as 
a friend and a brother, has taken up its abode there as a conqueror by main 
force, or else has seduced the sensitive little intelligence from the outside, 
from beneath the prudent casement from which the peeping-mind inside has 
watched, fascinated, the big romantic notion swelling invitingly; or has, on 
the other hand, as a matter of traffic and mutual profit, come to terms with a 
possible assistant or colleague. In short, any of the hundred ways and degrees 
in which assent is arrived at, and an intellectual monopoly or hegemony 
consummated, is even more arcane to the majority than is the theory itself. 

Bergson and his time-philosophy exactly corresponds to Proust, the 
abstract for the other’s concrete. There is so far no outstanding exponent 
in literature or art of einsteinian physics, for necessarily there is a certain 
interval, as things are, between the idea and the representation. But such 
a figure will no doubt occur; and further theorists of this great school will 
be accompanied by yet further artists, applying its philosophy to life. Or 
perhaps, since now the general outline of the cult is settled, and the changes 
within it will be incidental, largely, they may crop up simultaneously. Indeed, 
Proust and Joyce are examples to hand of how already it does not matter very 
much to what phase of the one great movement the interpreter belongs. 

Without all the uniform pervasive growth of the time-philosophy starting 
from the little seed planted by Bergson, discredited, and now spreading more 
vigorously than ever, there would be no Ulysses, or there would be no A La 
Recherche du Temps Perdu. There would be no ‘time-composition’ of Miss 
Stein; no fugues in words. In short, Mr. Joyce is very strictly of the school of 


Bergson-Einstein, Stein-Proust. He is of the great time-school they represent. 
His book is a time-book, as I have said, in that sense. He has embraced the 
time-doctrine very completely. And it is as the critic of that doctrine and of 
that school that I have approached the analysis of his writings up to date. (I 
insert this last time-clause because there is no reason at all to suppose that he 
may not be influenced in turn by my criticism; and indeed, I hope it may be 
so, for he would be a very valuable adherent.) 

Yet that time-sense is really exasperated in Joyce in the fashion that is 
in Proust, Dada, Pound or Miss Stein, may be doubted. He has a very keen 
preoccupation with the Past, it is certain; he does lay things down side by 
side, carefully dated; and added to that, he has some rather loosely and 
romantically held notion of periodicity. But I believe that all these things 
amount to with him is this: I believe that as a careful, even meticulous, 
craftsman, with a long training of doctrinaire naturalism, the detail — the 
time-detail as much as anything else — assumes an exaggerated importance for 
him. And I am sure that he would be put to his trumps to say how he came 
by much of the time-machinery that he possesses. Until he was told, I dare 
say that he did not know he had it, even; for he is ‘an instinctive,’ like Pound, 
in that respect; there is not very much reflection going on at any time inside 
the head of Mr. James Joyce. That is indeed the characteristic condition of the 
craftsman, pure and simple. 

And that is what Joyce is above all things, essentially the craftsman. It is a 
thing more common, perhaps, in painting or the plastic arts than in literature. 
I do not mean by this that he works harder or more thoroughly than other 
people, but that he is not so much an inventive intelligence as an executant. 
He is certainly very ‘shoppy,’ and professional to a fault, though in the midst 
of the amateurism of the day it is a fault that can easily be forgiven. 

What stimulates him is ways of doing things, and technical processes, 
and not things to be done. Between the various things to be done he shows 
a true craftsman’s impartiality. He is become so much a writing-specialist 
that it matters very little to him what he writes, or what idea or worldview 
he expresses, so long as he is trying his hand at this manner and that, and 
displaying his enjoyable virtuosity. Strictly speaking, he has none at all, no 
special point of view, or none worth mentioning. It is such people that the 
creative intelligence fecundates and uses; and at present that intelligence 
is political, and its stimuli are masked ideologies. He is only a tool, an 
instrument, in short. That is why such a sensitive medium as Joyce, working 
in such a period, requires the attention of the independent critic. 

So perhaps it is easy to see how, without much realizing what was 
happening, Joyce arrived where he did. We can regard it as a diathetic 
phenomenon partly — the craftsman is susceptible and unprotected. There 
are even slight, though not very grave, symptoms of disorder in his art. 

The painful preoccupation with the exact place of things in a room, for 
instance, could be mildly matched in his writing. The things themselves by 
which he is surrounded lose, for the hysterical subject, their importance, or 


even meaning. Their position absorbs all the attention of his mind. Some 
such uneasy pedantry, in a mild form, is likely to assail any conscientious 
craftsman — especially in an intensive ‘space-time’ atmosphere, surrounded by 
fanatical space-timeists. The poor craftsman has never been in such peril as 
to-day, for it is a frantic hornpipe indeed that his obedient legs are compelled 
to execute. But otherwise Joyce, with his highly developed physical basis, is 
essentially sane. 

The method that underlies Ulysses is known as the ‘telling from the 
inside.’ As that description denotes, it is psychological. Carried out in the 
particular manner used in Ulysses , it lands the reader inside an Aladdin’s cave 
of incredible, bric-a-brac in which a dense mass of dead stuff is collected, 
from 1901 toothpaste, a bar or two of Sweet Rosie O’Grady, to pre-nordic 
architecture. An immense nature-morte is the result. This ensues from the 
method of confining the reader in a circumscribed psychological space 
into which several encyclopaedias have been emptied. It results from the 
constipation induced in the movement of the narrative. 

The amount of stuff— \morg&mzc& brute material — that the more active 
principle of drama has to wade through, under the circumstances, slows it 
down to the pace at which, inevitably, the sluggish tide of the author’s bric- 
a-brac passes the observer, at the saluting post , or in this case, the reader. It 
is a suffocating, moeotic expanse of objects, all of them lifeless, the sewage 
of a Past twenty years old, all neatly arranged in a meticulous sequence. The 
newspaper in which Mr. Bloom’s bloater is wrapped up, say, must press on to 
the cold body of the fish, reverse, the account of the bicycle accident that was 
reported on the fated day chosen for this Odyssey; or at least this is the idea. 

At the end of a long reading of Ulysses you feel that it is the very 
nightmare of the naturalistic method that you have been experiencing. 

Much as you cherish the merely physical enthusiasm that expresses itself in 
this stupendous outpouring of matter , or stuff, you wish, on the spot, to be 
transported to some more abstract region for a time, where the dates of the 
various toothpastes, the brewery and laundry receipts, the growing pile of 
punched ‘bus-tickets, the growing holes in the baby’s socks and the darn that 
repairs them, assume less importance. It is your impulse perhaps quickly to 
get your mind where there is nothing but air and rock, however inhospitable 
and featureless, and a little timeless, too. You will have had a glut, for the 
moment (if you have really persevered), of matter, procured you by the 
turning on of all this river of what now is rubbish, but which was not then, 
by the obsessional application of the naturalistic method associated by the 
exacerbated time-sense. And the fact that you were not in the open air, but 
closed up inside somebody else’s head, will not make things any better. It 
will have been your catharsis of the objective accumulations that obstinately 
collect in even the most active mind. 

Now in the graphic and plastic arts that stage of fanatic naturalism long 
ago has been passed. All the machinery appropriate to its production has long 
since been discarded, luckily for the pure creative impulse of the artist. The 


nineteenth-century naturalism of that obsessional, fanatical order is what 
you find on the one hand in Ulysses. On the other, you have a great variety of 
recent influences enabling Mr. Joyce to use it in the way that he did. 

The effect of this rather fortunate confusion was highly stimulating to 
Joyce, who really got the maximum out of it, with an appetite that certainly 
will never be matched again for the actual matter revealed in his composition, 
or proved to have been lengthily secreted there. It is like a gigantic Victorian 
quilt or antimacassar. Or it is the voluminous curtain that fell, belated (with 
the alarming momentum of a ton or two of personally organized rubbish), 
upon the Victorian scene. So rich was its delivery, its pet-up outpouring so 
vehement, that it will remain, eternally cathartic, a monument like a record 
diarrhoea. No one who looks at it will ever want to look behind it. It is the 
sardonic catafalque of the Victorian world. 

Two opposite things were required for this result. Mr. Joyce could never 
have performed this particular feat if he had not been, in his make-up, 
extremely immobile; and yet, in contradiction to that, very open to new 
technical influences. It is the craftsman in Joyce that is progressive; but the 
man has not moved since his early days in Dublin. He is on the side a ‘young 
man’ in some way embalmed. His technical adventures do not, apparently, 
stimulate him to think. On the contrary, what he thinks seems to be of 
a conventional and fixed order, as though perhaps not to embarrass the 
neighbouring evolution of his highly progressive and eclectic craftsmanship. 

So he collected like a cistern in his youth the last stagnant pumpings of 
Victorian anglo-irish life. This he held stead-fastly intact for fifteen years or 
more — then when he was ripe, as it were, he discharged it, in a dense mass, 
to his eternal glory. That was Ulysses. Had the twenty-year-old Joyce of the 
Dubliners not remained almost miraculously intact, we should never have 
witnessed this peculiar spectacle. 

That is, I believe, the true account of how this creative event occurred 
with Joyce; and, if that is so, it will be evident that we are in the presence 
of a very different phenomenon from proust. Proust returned to the temps 
perdu. Joyce never left them. He discharged it as freshly as though the time 
he wrote about were still present, because it was his present. It rolled out with 
all the aplomb and vivacity of a contemporary experience, assisted in its slick 
discharge by the latest technical devices. 

6. So though Joyce has written a time-book, he has done it, I believe, to 
some extent, by accident. Proust, on the contrary, was stimulated to all his 
efforts precisely by the thought of compassing a specifically time-creation — 
the Recherche du Temps Perdu. The unconscious artist has, in this case, the best 
of it, to my mind. Proust, on the other hand, romanticizes his Past, where 
Joyce (whose Present it is) does not. 

To create new beauty, and to supply a new material, is the obvious affair 
of art of any kind to-day. But that is a statement that by itself would convey 
very little. Without stopping to unfold that now, I will summarize what I 


understand by its opposite. Its opposite is that that thrives upon the time- 
philosophy that it has invented for itself, or which has been imposed upon it or 
provided for it. 

The inner meaning of time-philosophy , from whatever standpoint 
you approach it, and however much you paste it over with confusing 
advertisements of ‘life,’ of ‘organism,’ is the doctrine of a mechanistic 
universe; periodic; timeless, or nothing but ‘time,’ whichever you prefer; 
and above all, essentially dead. A certain deadness, a lack of nervous power, 
an aversion to anything suggesting animal vigour, characterizes all the art, as 
has already been pointed out, issuing from this philosophy. Or in the exact 
mixing in the space-timeist scheme of all the ‘matter’ and all the ‘organism’ 
together, you get to a sort of vegetable or vermiform average. It is very 
mechanical; and according to our human, aristocratic standards of highly- 
organized life, it is very dead. 

The theoretic truth that the time-philosophy affirms is a mechanistic 
one. It is the conception of an aged intelligence, grown mechanical and 
living upon routine and memory, essentially; its tendency, in its characteristic 
working, is infallibly to transform the living into the machine, with a small, 
unascertained, but uninteresting margin of freedom. It is the fruit, of course, 
oft the puritan mind, born in the nineteenth century upon the desolate 
principles promoted by the too-rapidly mechanized life of the European. 

I will now turn to the scandalous element in Ulysses, its supposed 
obscenity. Actually it appears to me that the mind of Joyce is more chaste 
than most. Once you admit the license, at the start, Joyce set out to profit by, 
it is surprising how very little ‘sex’ matter there is in his pages. What is there 
is largely either freudian echoes (they had to enter into it), or else it is horse- 
play of a schoolboy or public-house order. The motif of the house-drani is 
once and for all put in its place, and not mentioned again. It is the fault of the 
reader if that page or two dealing with it assume, in retrospect, proportions 
it has not, as a fact, in Joyce’s pages. That passage can be regarded in the 
light of the reply of Antigonus to the poet Hermodorus, when the latter had 
described him as the son of the Sun. 

I will next take up in turn a few further items of importance, expiscating 
them one by one. Joyce is not a moralist, but he has a great relish, on the 
other hand, for politics. Indeed, Lady Bolingbroke’s remark about Pope, that 
he ‘played the politician about cabbages and turnips’ (or as somebody else 
remarked, ‘he hardly drank tea without a stratagem’), could be applied to the 
author of Ulysses — the mere name suggests a romantic predilection for guile. 

He could claim another affinity with Pope — namely, that although a 
witty writer, he is, as far as his private and personal legend is concerned, a 
man of one story. ‘One apothegm only stands upon record,’ Johnson writes 
of Pope; it was directed at Patrick. Joyce has one story to his credit, and it 
is at the expense of Yeats. As it is the general custom, even in the briefest 
account of Joyce, to tell this story, lest I should be regarded as imperfectly 
documented, I will give it here. When Joyce was about twenty years old he 


was very hard up, we are told, and he decided to go to Yeats and see if that 
gentleman would do anything to help him. He seems to have foreboded the 
result, and provided himself with a plan of action in the event of a rebuff.. 

The appointed time arrived. As he entered the room, sure enough he read 
on the face of Mr. Yeats the determination not to help him. Thereupon he 
bore down on Yeats, bade him good morning, and immediately inquired 
how old he was. On learning the extent of Yeats’ seniority, with a start of 
shocked surprise, he mournfully shook his head, exclaimed, ‘ I fear I have 
come too late! I can do nothing to help you!’ and, turning on his heel, left the 
apartment, the tables neatly turned. 

There is perhaps a sequel to that story, and, if so, it is to be sought, in 
the fact that Joyce himself has shown recently the baselessness of its major 
implication. He has whitewashed, I think, in one important respect that 
‘scoundrel’ that Mr. Shaw has affirmed ‘every man over forty’ to be, by 
displaying in his own person, to this day, an undiminished ability to be 
influenced by all sorts of people and things, from the jaunty epistolary style 
of Ezra Pound to the ‘compositional’ stammerings of Miss Stein. Actually the 
further he advances the more susceptible to new influences, of a technical 
order, he becomes. What gives Ulysses the appearance of a merging of analects 
is a record of this. He was rather unenterprising and stationary in his earlier 
years. The Dubliners is written in one style, Ulysses in a hundred or so. 

7. There are several other things that have to be noted as characteristic 
of Joyce for a full understanding of a technique that has grown into a very 
complex, overcharged facade. The craftsman, pure and simple, is at the 
bottom of his work. I have already insisted upon that, and in that connection 
it almost appears, I have said, that he has practised sabotage where his 
intellect was concerned, in order to leave his craftsman’s hand freer for its 
stylistic exercises. That is a phenomenon very commonly met with in the 
painter’s craft. Daring or unusual speculation, or an unwonted intensity of 
outlook, is not good for technical display, that is certain, and they are seldom 
found together. The intellect is in one sense the rival of the hand, and is apt 
with its showing-off, and affords no encouragement to the hand’s ‘sedulous 
apeishness’; or so would say the hand. 

The extreme conventionality of Joyce’s mind and outlook is perhaps due 
to this. In Ulysses, if you strip away the technical complexities that envelop 
it, the surprises of style and unconventional attitudes that prevail in it, the 
figures underneath are of a remarkable simplicity, and of the most orthodoxly 
comic outline. Indeed, it is not too much to say that they are, most of them, 
walking cliches. So much is this the case, that your attention is inevitably 
drawn to the evident paradox that ensues; namely, that of an intelligence so 
alive to purely verbal cliches that it hunts them like fleas, with remarkable 
success, and yet that leaves the most gigantic ready-made and well-worm 
dummies enthroned everywhere, in the form of the actual personnel of the 
book. 


A susceptibility to verbal cliches is, however, not at all the same thing 
as a susceptibility to such a cliche as is represented by a stage Jew (Bloom), 
a stage Irishman (Mulligan), or a stage Anglo-Saxon (Haines). Cliches of 
that description thrive in the soil of Ulysses. This paradox is an effect of 
the craftsman-mind which has been described above; that is my reading of 
the riddle. You could, if you wanted to, reverse the analytical process. The 
virtuosity would then be deduced from the fact of the resourceful presence 
of a highly critical intellect, but without much inventiveness, nor the gift of 
first-hand observation — thriving vicariously, in its critical exercises, upon 
the masters of the Past. That would be a description of what, in music, is 
a common phenomenon, namely, the interpretative artist, the supreme 
instrumentalist. 

If you examine for a moment the figures presented to you in the opening 
of Ulysses, you will at once see what is meant by these remarks. The admirable 
writing will seduce you, perhaps, from attending too closely, at first, to the 
characterization. But what in fact you are given there, in the way of character, 
is the most conventional stuff in the world; and the dramatic situation for 
which they are provided is not even an original one, for it is the situation of 
John Bull’s Other Island, picturesquely staged in a Martello-tower, with the 
author in the principal role. 

Haines, the romantic Englishman, or ‘Sassenach,’ with the ‘pale eyes like 
the ocean wave that he rules,’ his extreme woodenness and deep sentimental, 
callous imbecility, his amateur- anthropologist note-gathering among the 
interesting irish natives; and in lively contrast to this dreary, finished ‘Saxon’ 
butt (who always says what is expected of him), the jolly, attractive, Wild 
Irishman (Mulligan), who sees through, makes rings round, the ideally 
slow and stupid ‘creeping Saxon,’ while yet remaining ‘the servant’ with ‘the 
cracked looking-glass’ of Stephan’s epigram — that is all pure John Bull’s Other 
Island. Haines is a stage-’Saxon,’ Mulligan is a stage-irishman; that on one 
side and the other of the Irish Channel such figures could be found is certain 
enough; but they are the material of broad comedy; not that of a subtle or 
average reality at all. They are the conventional reality of one satisfied with the 
excessive, unusual and ready-made; and they are juxtaposed here on the time- 
honoured shavian model. 

But if they are cliches, Stephan Dedalus is a worse or a far more glaring 
one. He is the really wooden figure. He is ‘the poet’ to an uncomfortable, 
a dismal, a ridiculous, even a pulverizing degree. His movements in the 
Martello-tower, his theatrical ‘bitterness,’ his cheerless, priggish stateliness, 
his gazings into the blue distance, his Irish Accent, his exquisite sensitive, his 
‘pride’ that is so crude as to be almost indecent, the incredible slowness with 
which he gets about from place to place, up the stairs, down the stairs, like a 
funereal stage-king; the time required for him to move his neck, how he raises 
his hand, passes it over his aching eyes, or his damp brow, even more wearily 
drops it, closes his dismal little shutters against his rollicking irish-type of 
a friend (in his capacity of a type-poet), and remains setentiously secluded, 


shut up in his own personal Martello-tower — a Martello-tower within a 
Martello-tower — until he consents to issue out, tempted by the opportunity 
of making an ideally idiotic background provided by Haines; all this has 
to be read to be believed — but read, of course, with a deaf ear to the really 
charming workmanship with which it is presented. Written on a level with its 
conception, and it would be as dull stuff as you could easily find. 

The stage-directions with which the novelist in general pursues his 
craft are usually tell-tale, and Ulysses is no exception to that rule. The stage- 
directions for getting Stephan Dedalus, the irritating hero, about, sitting him 
down, giving accent to his voice, are all painfully enlightening. 

This is how the hero of Ulysses first appears on page 2 of the book : — 

‘Stephan Dedalus stepped up, followed him wearily halfway and sat down....’ 


He does almost everything ‘wearily.’ He ‘sits down’ always before he has 
got far. He moves with such dignified and ‘weary’ slowness, that he never gets 
further than half-way under any circumstances as compared with any other 
less dignified, less ‘weary,’ figures in the book — that is to say, any of the many 
figures introduced to show off his dismal supremacy. This is where (page 2) 
Stephan Dedalus first speaks : — 

‘...Tell me, Mulligan,’ Stephan said quietly. 


In this quiet ‘Tell me Mulligan’ — (irish accent, please) — you have the soul 
of this small, pointless, oppressive character in its entirety. You wonder for 
some pages what can be the cause of this weighty inanition. There is perhaps 
some plausible reason for it, which will be revealed in the sequel. That would 
make things a little better. But nothing happens of that sort. You slowly find 
out what it is. The hero is trying to be a gentleman! That is the secret — nothing 
less, nothing more. The ‘artist as a young man’ has ‘the real Oxford manner,’ 
you are informed; and you eventually realize that his oppressive mannerisms 
have been due to in the first instance to an attempt to produce the impression 
of ‘an Oxford manner,’ you are informed; and you eventually realize that his 
oppressive mannerisms have been due in the first instance to an attempt to 
produce the impression of ‘an Oxford manner.’ 

Let us, starting from the top of page 3, take a few of the cliches having a 
bearing on the point under consideration : — 

(1) Mulligan asks the hero for his handkerchief. ‘Stephan suffered him 
to pull out’ the handkerchief, etc. The word suffered and the bathos of the 
gesture involved in the offering of the pocket, are characteristic. 

(2) Buck Mulligan ‘turned abruptly his great searching eyes from the sea,’ 
etc. Great searching eyes of the author, from whom no verbal cliche may 
escape, when he wrote that? 

(3) Mulligan to Stephan: ‘He (Haines) thinks you’re not a gentleman.’ 
That is what Stephan Dedalus is pursued and obsessed by, the notion of 


‘being a genteman’; that is the secret, as has already been said, of most of 
the tiresome mannerisms that oppress a reader of Ulysses wherever Dedalus 
appears. (Compare the Oxford manner,’ etc., above.) 

(4) "’Then what is it?” Buck Mulligan asked impatiently. “Cough it up.” 
Stephan freed his arm quietly (page 7). Stephan does everything ‘quietly,’ 
whether he ‘quietly’ touches Mulligan on the arm or ‘quietly’ frees his own. 

He is a very quiet man indeed. 

(5) On page 19 Mulligan has chanted a popular theological ditty. Haines 
says to Stephan: ‘We oughtn’t to laugh, I suppose. He’s rather blasphemous. 
I’m not a believer myself, that is to say. Still his gaiety takes the harm out of it 
somehow, doesn’t it? What did he call it? Joseph the Joiner?’ 

This is a good example of the Saxon (John Bull’s Other Island model) 
talking. Provided with such a foil, Stephan goes on replying ‘dryly,’ 

‘quietly,’ or with ‘pained’ superiority, to the end of the chapter. Such is your 
introduction in Ulysses to some of the principal characters. 

It is unnecessary to quote any further; the reader by referring to the 
opening of Ulysses, can provide himself with as much more as he requires; 
these few extracts will enable anybody to get a more concrete idea of what 
is under discussion. It would be difficult, I think, to find a more lifeless, 
irritating, principal figure than the deplorable hero of the Portrait of the Artist 
and of Ulysses. 

The method of the growth for these books may be partly responsible for 
it, the imperfect assimilation of the matter-of-fact naturalism of the Dubliners 
to the more complex Ulysses. But the fact remains that in the centre of the 
picture, this mean and ridiculous figure remains — attitudinizing, drooping, 
stalking slowly, ‘quietly’ and ‘bitterly’ from spot to spot, mouthing a little 
Latin, ‘bitterly’ scoring off a regiment of conventional supers. 

All you have got to do is to compare the frigid prig — hoping that his 
detestable affectations will be mistaken for ‘an Oxford manner,’ trusting 
that the ‘quiet’ distinction of his deportment will reassure strangers on the 
burning question of whether he is a gentleman or not — with one of the 
principal heroes of the russian novels, and a spiritual gulf of some sort will 
become apparent between the ardent, simple and in some cases truly heroical 
figures on the one side, and the drooping, simpering, leering, ‘bitter’ and 
misunderstood, spoilt-child conscious of its meanness and lack of energy, on 
the other, on that of Joyce. 

The russian scene, which stood as a background for the great group of 
nineteenth-century russian writers, was mediaeval, it is true, an cast on more 
elemental lines than anything that has existed in the West since the days 
of Elizabeth. But the author of the Dubliners was alimenting himself from 
the French as much as were the last of the Russians, and Dublin as much 
as Moscow would be for a french contemporary of Flaubert a savage place. 
Historically the work of Joyce will probably be classed with books dealing 
with that last burst of heroical, pr-communist, european life. 

What induced Joyce to place in the centre of his very large canvas this 


grotesque figure, Stephan Dedalus? Or having done so, to make it worse 
by contrasting it the whole time (as typifying ‘the ideal’) with the gross 
‘materialism’ of the Jew, Bloom? Again, the answer to that, I believe, is that 
things grew in that way, quite outside of Joyce’s control; and it is an effect, 
merely, of a confusion of method. 

Joyce is fundamentally autobiographical, it must be recalled; not in the 
way that most writers to some extent are, but scrupulously and naturalistically 
so. Or at least that is how he started. The Portrait of the Artist as a Young 
Man was supposed to give you a neat, carefully-drawn picture of Joyce from 
babyhood upwards, in the result like an enlarged figure from the Dubliners. 
You get an accurate enough account, thereupon, of a physically-feeble, timid, 
pompous, ill-tempered, very conceited little boy. It is interesting, honest, even 
sometimes to naivete — though not often that; but it is not promising material 
for anything but the small, neat naturalism of Dubliners would one day 
become the author of the big blustering Ulysses. 

The effort to show Stephen Dedalus in a favourable, heightened light 
throughout, destroys the naturalism, and at the same time certainly fails to 
achieve the heroic. Yet the temper of Ulysses is to some extent an heroical 
one. So you are left with a neat little naturalist ‘hero,’ of the sort that swarms 
humorously in Chekov, tiptoeing to play his part in the fluid canvas of an 
ambitious Ulysses, unexpectedly expanding beneath his feet; urged by his 
author to rise to the occasion and live up to the role of the incarnation of 
the immaterial, and so be top-dog to Poldy Bloom. As it is, of course, the 
author, thinly disguised as a middle-aged Jew tout (Mr. Leopold Bloom), 
wins the reader’s sympathy every time he appears; and he never is confronted 
with the less and less satisfactory Dedalus (in the beau role) without the latter 
losing trick after trick to his disreputable rival; and so, to the dismay of the 
conscientious reader, betraying the principles he represents. It is a sad affair, 
altogether, on that side. 

Turning to Mr. Bloom, we find an unsatisfactory figure, too, but of an 
opposite sort and in a very different degree. He possesses all the recognized 
theatrical properties of ‘the Jew’ up-to-date — he is more feminine than 
la femme, shares her couvade, the periodicity of her intimate existence is 
repeatedly mildly in his own; he counts the beer bottles stacked in a yard he is 
passing, computing with glee the profit to be extracted from that commerce; 
but such a Jew as Bloom, taken altogether, has never been seen outside the 
pages of Mr. Joyce’s book. And he is not even a Jew most of the time, but his 
talented irish author. 

In reality there is no Mr. Bloom at all, of course, except at certain 
moments. Usually the author, carelessly disguised beneath what other people 
have observed about Jews, or yet other people have believed that they have 
seen about Jews, or yet other people have believed that they have seen, is 
alone performing before us. There is no sign throughout the book that he 
has ever directly and intelligently observed any individual Jew. He has merely 
out of books and conversations collected facts, witticisms and generalizations 


about Jews, and wrapped up his own kindly person with these, till he has 
bloated himself into a thousand pages of heterogenous, peculiarly unjewish, 
matter. So he has certainly contributed nothing to the literature of the jew, for 
which task he is in any case quite unsuited. 

This inability to observe directly, a habit of always looking at people 
through other people’s eyes and not through his own, is deeply rooted within 
Joyce. Where a multitude of little details or some obvious idiosyncrasy 
are concerned, he may be said to be observant; but the secret of an entire 
organism escapes him. Not being observant where entire people (That is, 
people at all) are concerned, he depicts them conventionally always, under 
some general label. For it is in the fragmentation of a mood, or time-self — 
that you arrive at the mechanical and abstract, the opposite of the living. 

This, however, leaves him free to achieve with a mass of detail a superficial 
appearance of life; and also to exercise his imitative talents without check 
where the technical problem is concerned. 

8. In the above account of the value of the figures to which the opening 
of Ulysses introduces us, I have given the direct impression received upon 
a fresh reading of it for the purposes of this essay. Had I undertaken to 
write a general criticism of the work of Joyce I should not have passed on 
this impression uncensored — in its native sensational strength — but have 
modified it, by associating it with other impressions more favourable to the 
author. As it is, however, it is my object to obtain the necessary salience for an 
aspect of Joyce’s mind that is of capital importance to what I have to say on 
the subject of the time-mind, as I have called it. 

The radical conventionality of outlook implied throughout Ulysses, and 
exhibited in the treatment of the characters, isolated from their technical 
wrapping, has the following bearing upon what I have said elsewhere. This 
conventionality (which leaves, as it were, lay figures underneath, upon which 
the technical trappings can be accumulated at leisure with complete disregard 
for the laws of life) is the sign that we are in the presence of a craftsman 
rather than a creator. That sort of effect is invariably the sign of the simple 
craftsman — an absence of meaning, an emptiness of philosophic content, 
a poverty of new and disturbing observation. The school of nature-morte 
painters in Paris, who made a fetish of Cezanne’s apples; and indeed the 
deadness that has crept into all painting (so that whether it is people or things 
that are depicted, they all equally have the appearance of dead things or of 
dolls), is the phenomenon to which this other conventional deadness must be 
assimilated. 

In Ulysses you have a deliberate display, on the grand scale, of technical 
virtuosity and literary scholarship. What is underneath this overcharged 
surface, few people, so far, have seriously inquired. In reality it is rather an 
apologuical than a real landscape; and the two main characters, Bloom and 
Dedalus, are lay-figures (the latter a sadly ill-chosen one) on which such a 
mass of dead stuff is hung, that if ever they had any organic life of their own, 


it would speedily have overwhelmed in this torrent of matter, of nature-morte. 

This torrent of matter is the einsteinian flux. Or (equally well) it is the 
duration-flux of Bergson — that is its philosophic character, at all events. 

(How the specifically ‘organic’ and mental doctrine of the time-philosophy 
can result in a mechanism that is more mechanical than any other, I shall be 
considering later.) The method of doctrinaire naturalism, interpreted in that 
way, results in such a flux as you have in Ulysses, fatally. And into that flux it 
is you, the reader, that are plunged, or magnetically drawn by the attraction 
of so much matter as is represented by its thousand pages. That is also the 
strategy implied by its scale. 

But the author, of course, plunges with you. He takes you inside his head, 
or, as it were, into a roomy diving-suit, and, once down in the middle of the 
stream, you remain the author, naturally, inside whose head you are, though 
you are sometimes supposed to be aware of one person, sometimes of another. 
Most of the time you are being Bloom or Dedalus, from the inside, and that 
is Joyce. Some figures for a moment bump against you, and you certainly 
perceive them with great distinctness — or rather some fragment of their dress 
or some mannerism; then they are gone. But, generally speaking, it is you 
who descend into the flux of Ulysses, and it is the author who absorbs you 
momentarily into himself for that experience. That is all that the telling from 
the inside’ amounts to. All the rest is literature, and dogma; or the dogma of 
the time-literature. 

I say, ‘naturalism interpreted in this way’ has that result, because there 
are so many varieties of naturalism. Some scientific naturalism does deal with 
things from the outside, indeed, not of softness. But the method of Ulysses 
imposes a softness, flabbiness and vagueness everywhere in its bergsonian 
fluidity. It was in the company of that old magician, Sigmund Freud, that 
Joyce learnt the way into the Aladdin’s cave where he manufactured his 
Ulysses-, and the philosophic flux-stream has its source, too, in that magical 
cavern. 

The claim to be employing the ‘impersonal’ method of science in the 
presentment of the personnel of Ulysses can be entirely disregarded. If there 
were any definite and carefully demarcated personality — except in the case of 
Dedalus, or here and there we see a casual eprson for a moment — it would be 
worth while examining that claim. But as there are no persons to speak of for 
the author to be ‘impersonal’ about, that can at once be dismissed. Ulysses is 
a highly romantic self-portrait of the mature Joyce (disguised as a Jew) and of 
his adolescent self — of Bloom and Dedalus. Poldy Joyce, luckily for him, is 
a more genial fellow than Stephan Joyce — else the Portrait of the Artist stage 
would never have been passed by James. 

Another thing that can be dismissed even more summarily is the claim 
that Bloom is a creation, a great homme moyen sensuel of fiction. That side 
of Bloom would never have sexisted had it not been for the Bouvard and 
Pecuchet of Flaubert, which very intense creation Joyce merely takes over, 
spins out, and translates into the relaxed medium of anglo-irish humour. 


Where Bloom is being Bouvard and Pecuchet, it is a translation, nothing 
more. 

Nor really can the admirable Goya-like fantasia in the middle of the 
book, in which all the characters enjoy a free metaphysical existence (released 
from the last remnants of the nineteenth-century restraint of the doctrine of 
naturalism), be compared for original power of conception with the Tentation. 
As to the homeric framework, that is only an entertaining structural device or 
conceit. 

9. In The Art of Being Ruled (chap. vi. part xii.), I have analysed in passing 
one aspect of the telling from the inside’ method, where that method is based 
upon a flaubertian naturalism, and used by an english writer brought up in 
the anglo-saxon humorous tradition. There my remarks were called forth 
by the nature of the more general analysis I was at the time engaged upon, 
which included what I described as the sort of gargantuan mental stutter’ 
employed by Miss Stein, in the course of her exploitation of the processes of 
the demented. I shall now quote what is essential to my present purpose from 
that chapter relative to Mr. Joyce : — 

. . .the repetition (used by Miss Stein) is also in the nature of a photograph of 
the unorganized word-dreaming of the mind when not concentrated for some logical 
functional purpose. Mr. Joyce employed this method with success (not so radically and 
rather differently) in Ulysses. Tire thought-stream or word-stream of his hero’s mind was 
supposed to be photographed. The effect was not unlike the conversation of Mr. Jingle 
in Pickwick. 

The reason why you get this Mr. Jingle effect is that, in Ulysses , a considerable 
degree of naturalism being aimed at, Mr. Joyce had not the freedom of movement 
possessed by the more ostensibly personal, semi-lyrical utterances of Miss Stein. He 
had to pretend that we were really surprising the private thought of a real and average 
human creature, Mr. Bloom. But the fact is that Mr. Bloom was abnormally wordy. He 
thought in words, not images, for our benefit, in a fashion as unreal, from the point of 
view of the strictest naturalist dogma, as a Hamlet soliloquy. And yet the pretence of 
naturalism involved Mr. Joyce in something less satisfying than Miss Stein’s more direct 
and arbitrary arrangements. 

For Mr. Joyce’s use of Miss Stein’s genial method the following passage will suffice 
(it is of the more genial, Mr. Jingle, order): 

‘Provost’s house. The reverend Dr. Salmon: tinned salmon. Well tinned in there. 
Wouldn’t live in it if they paid me. Hope they have liver and bacon today. Nature 
abhors a vacuum. There he is: the brother. Image of him. Haunting face. Now that’s a 
coincidence. Course hundreds of times you think of a person, etc. 

‘Feel better. Burgundy. Good pick-me-up. Who distilled first. Some chap in the 
blues. Dutch courage. That Kilkenny People in the national library: now I must.’ 

Here is Mr. Jingle, from Pickwick : — 

‘Rather short in the waist, ain’t it? Like a general postman’s coat — queer coats 
those — made by contract — no measuring — mysterious dispensation of Providence — all 
the short men get the long coats — all the long men short ones 

‘Come — stopping at Crown — Crown at Muggleton — met a party — flannel 
jackets — white trousers — anchovy sandwiches — deviled kidneys — splendid fellows — 


glorious 

So by the devious route of a fashionable naturalist device — that usually described 
as ‘presenting the character from the inside — and the influence exercised on him by 
Miss Stein’s technique of picturesque dementia — Mr. Joyce reaches the half-demented 
crack figure of traditional english humour. 


The clowning and horseplay of english humour play a very important 
part in the later work of Joyce. In Ulysses Rabelais is also put under 
contribution to reinforce this vein, though it is the matter of Rabelais that is 
parodied, and the matter of that unusual profound writer is not very much 
disturbed. Since Ulysses (but still in the manner of that book) Mr. Joyce has 
written a certain amount — the gathering material of a new book, which, 
altogether almost, employs the manner of Nash — though again somewhat 
varied with echoes ofUrquhart’s translations. He has fallen almost entirely 
into a literary horseplay on the one side, and Steinesque child-play on the 
other. 

As to the Nash factor, when read in the original, the brilliant rattle of that 
Elizabethan’s high-spirited ingenuity can in time grow tiresome, and is of a 
stupefying monotony. What Nash says, from start to finish, is nothing. The 
mind demands some special substance from a writer, for words open into the 
region of ideas; and the requirements of that region, where it is words you 
are using, must somehow be met. Chapman, Donne or Shakespeare, with as 
splendid a mastery of language, supply this demand, whereas Nash does not. 

But Nash is a great prose-writer, one of the greatest as far as sheer 
execution is concerned, and in that over-ornate bustling field. Yet his 
emptiness has resulted in his work falling into neglect, which, if you read 
much of him, is not difficult to understand. His great appetite for words, their 
punning potentialities, along with a power of compressing them into pungent 
arabesques, is admirable enough to have made him more remembered than 
he is. But certainly some instinct in Posterity turned it away from this too 
physical, too merely high-spirited and muscular, verbal performer. He tired it 
like a child with his empty energy, I suppose. 

Nash appears to be at present the chief source of Joyce’s inspiration — 
associated with his old friend Rabelais, and some of the mannerisms of Miss 
Stein, those easiest assimilated without its showing. There is a further source 
now, it appears; he has evidently concluded that the epistolary style of Ezra 
Pound should not be born to blush unseen, but should be made a more 
public use of than Pound has done. So in it has gone with the rest. 

I am not able to give parallel examples of Pound’s epistolary style and 
those parts of Joyce’s recent prose that derive from it; but a passage from Nash 
and one from a recent piece by Joyce I can. Here is Nash : — 

There was a herring, or there was not, for it was but a cropshin, one of the refuse 
sort of herrings, and this herring, or this cropshin, was sensed and thurified in the 
smoke, and had got him a suit of durance that would last longer than one of Erra Pater’s 
almanacs, or a constable’s brown bill: only his head was in his tail, and that made 


his breath so strong that no man could abide him. Well, he was a Triton of his time, 
and a sweet-singing calendar to the state, yet not beloved of the showery Pleiades, or 
the Colossus of the sun: however he thought himself another Tumidus Antimachus, 
as complete an Adelantado as he that is known by wearing a cloak of tuffed taffety 
eighteen years. . .etc. 

Here is another piece from Nash where Joyce and Nash meet on the 
common ground of Rabelais : — 

The posterior Italian and German cornugraphers stick not to applaud and canonize 
unnatural sodomitry, the strumpet errant, the gout, the ague, the dropsy, the sciatica, 
folly, drunkenness and slovenry. Th c galli gallinacei, or cocking French, swarm every 
pissing-while in their primer editions, imprimeda jour duy , of the unspeakable healthful 
conducibleness of the gomorrihan great poco , a poco, their true countrymen every inch of 
him, the prescript laws of tennis or balonne. . .the commodity of hoarseness, blear eyes, 
scabbed hams, threadbare cloaks, poached eggs, and panados. 

Here is the opening of an Extract from Work in Progress by James Joyce 


Shem is as short for Shemus as Jem is joky for Jacob. A few toughnecks are still 
getatable who pretend that aboriginally he was of respectable stemming (an inlaw to 
Capt. the Hon. and Rev. Mr Bbyrdwood de Trop Blogg was among his most distant 
connections) but every honest to goodness man in the land of the space of today knows 
that his back life will not stand being written about in black and white. 

Again: — 

. . .a ladies tryon hosiery raffle at liberty, a sewerful of guineagold wine with 
brancomongepadenopie and sickcylinder oysters worth a billion a bite, an entire 
operahouse of enthusiastic noblewomen flinging every coronetcrimsoned stitch they 
had off at his probscenium, one after the others, when, egad, sir, he sang the topsquall 
in Deal Lil Shemlockup Yellin (geewhiz, jew ear thatfar! soap ewer! juice like a boyd!) 
for fully five minutes infinitely better than Barton Me. Guckin with a scrumptious 
cocked hat and three green trinity plumes on his head and a dean’s crazier that he won 
for falling first over the hurdles, madam, in the odder hand, , but what with the murky 
light, the botchy print, the tattered cover, the jigjagged page, the fumbling fingers, the 
foxtrotting fleas, the lieabed lice, the scum on his tongue, the drop in his eye, the lump 
in his throat, the drink in his pottle, the itch in his palm, the wail of his wind, the 
grief from his breath, the fog of his brainfag, the tic of his conscience, the height of his 
rage, the gush of his fundament, the fire in his gorge, the tickle of his tail, the rats in 
his garret, the hullabaloo and the dust in his ears, since it took him a month to steal a 
march, he was hardset to memorize more than a word a week. 


The close similarity in every way of those passages that I have quoted 
will be evident. In the first of the extracts from Joyce, curiously enough, he 
reveals one of the main preoccupations of the hero of Ulysses, namely, that 
arising from the ravages of the gentleman-complex — the Is he or isn’t he a 
gentleman? — the phantom index-finger of the old shabby-genteel typical 
query pursuing the author. In this instance, as he is not writing about himself, 


we are given to understand that the figure in question is not. His gargantuan 
villain-of-the-piece is not even allowed to be very closely connected with the 
noble de Trop Bloggs. But the implicit theme of the entire piece, what moves 
Joyce to churn up the english tongue in a mock-elizabethan frenzy, is the 
burning question still of his shabby-genteel boyhood, namely, To be a toff,’ or 
not to be a ‘toff.’ 

In the respectable, more secluded corners of the anglo-saxon world, every 
one has at some time met keepers of tiny general-shops in provincial towns, 
char-ladies, faded old women in lodging-houses and so on, whose main hold 
upon life appears to be the belief that they have seen better days; and that 
really, if every one had their due, they, like their distant relatives, the de Bloggs, 
would be rolling in their Royces, and Ritzing it with the best. Because we do 
not usually associate this strange delusion with eminent authors, that is not a 
reason why, nevertheless, they should not secretly be haunted by it; especially 
if, as with Joyce, they issue from a similar shabby-gentility and provincial 
snobbishness. In spite of this necessary reflection it is always with a fresh 
astonishment that you come upon this faded, cheerless subject-matter. 

But there is one thing that it will be well to note about this type 
of preoccupation, namely, that it is essentially the Victorian poor or the 
country people or provincials, still Victorian, who display that obsession, 
not the metropolitan poor of to-day, certainly. It was Thackeray’s world, 
or the denizens of the books of Dickens, who felt in that manner; and 
whether for better or worse, no such intense and maundering shabby- 
genteel snobs are any more manufactured in urban England, and I doubt if 
they are even in Ireland. So in the emotive psychology of these burlesques, 
even, Joyce is strangely of another day or, on the principle of the time- 
philosophy, provincial. To read him where that emotion is in the ascendant 
is like listening to a contemporary of Meredith or Dickens (capering to the 
elizabethan hornpipe of Nash perhaps — as interpreted by Miss Stein). 

10. The Portrait of the Artist is an extremely carefully written book; but it 
is not technically swept and tidied to the extent that is Ulysses. For instance, 
this passage from the opening of chapter II, would not have remained in the 
later book : — 

Every morning, therefore, uncle Charles repaired to his outhouse, but not before he 

had greased and brushed scrupulously his back hair, etc. 

People repair to places in works of fiction of the humblest order or in 
newspaper articles; and brushed scrupulously, though harmless certainly, is 
a conjunction that the fastidious eye would reject, provided it had time to 
exercise its function. But elsewhere in the Portrait of the Artist, in the scene on 
the seashore with the bird-girl, for instance, the conventional emotion calls 
to itself and clothes itself with a conventional expression; which, however 
merely technically pruned, leaves a taste of well-used sentiment in the mind, 


definitely of the cliche order. The more full-blooded humour of Ulysses 
prevents that from happening so often. 

It is in tracking this other sort of cliche — the cliche of feeling, of thought, 
and in a less detailed sense, of expression — that you will find everywhere 
beneath the surface in Joyce a conventional basis or framework. And until 
you get down to that framework or bed, you will not understand what is built 
over it, nor realize why, in a sense, it is so dead. 

From this charge Joyce would probably attempt to escape by saying 
that with Dedalus he was dealing with a sentimental young man. But that 
unfortunately does not explain his strange fondness for his company, nor 
his groundless assumption that he will be liked by us. We do not find such 
a young man in Flaubert’s Education Sentimentale, nor in any of the other 
modern masters of fiction. That is probably because they were in the truest 
sense less personal. 

Into Ulysses a great many things have been mixed, however. You will 
find many traces of it in the influence ofT.S. Eliot and of Pound’s classical, 
romance and anglo-saxon scholarly enthusiasms, not to be met with in earlier 
books. The Enemy of the Stars, a play written and published by me in 1914, 
obliterated by the War, turned up, I suspect, in Zurich and was responsible 
for the manner here and there of Joyce’s book. Then the Viennese school of 
psychology made Molly Bloom mutter, What are they always rooting about 
up there for, to see where they come from, I wonder?’ or words to that effect. 
No Irish Molly — however much of an ‘eternal feminine’ abstraction — would 
have ever soliloquized in that manner but for Sigmund Freud. Miss Stein can 
only be used — owing to the restrictions imposed by the naturalist method — 
when a character is half asleep, day dreaming, its mind wandering, or, in 
short, in such circumstances as justify, naturalistically, the use of Miss Stein’s 
technique. Ulysses is, however, able to come to an end as follows : — 

the jessamine and geraniums and cactuses and Gibraltar as a girl where I was a 
Flower of the mountain yes when I put the rose in my hair like the Andalusian girls used 
or shall I wear a red yes and how he kissed me under the Moorish wall and I thought 
well as well him as another and then I asked him with my eyes to ask again yes and then 
he asked me would I yes to say yes my mountain flower and first I put my arms around 
him yes and drew him down to me so he could feel my breasts all perfume yes and his 
heart was going like mad and yes I said yes I will Yes. 


That is the conclusion of Ulysses. This is Miss Stein (from Saints in Seven) 


He comes again. Yes he comes again and what does he say he says do you know this 
do you refuse no more than you give. That is the way to spell it do you refuse no more 
than you give. 


I have been gathering together all those factors in the mind of Joyce 
which make it, I am able to show, a good material for a predatory time- 
philosophy, bearing down upon it and claiming his pen as its natural servant. 


Social snobbery (for instance) suggests that he will probably be susceptible to 
merely fashionable hypnotisms; for more than any other thing it is the sign of 
the herd-mind. What Schopenhauer said of the jingo, that ‘if a man is proud 
of being “a German,” “a Frenchman,” or “a Jew,” he must have very little 
else to be proud of,’ can equally well be applied to class. For one man that is 
proud of being a person, there are a hundred thousand who are compelled to 
content themselves with being vain about being somebody else, or a whole 
dense abstract mass of somebody elses — their nation, their class. 

Joyce expresses the same idea as Pound in the quotation I have given 
(beginning, ‘It is dawn at Jerusalem’) in the Portrait of the Artist : — 

Stephanos Dedalos! Bous Stephanoumenos! Bous Stephaneforous! 

Their banter was not new to him. ...Now, as never before, his strange name seemed 
to him a prophecy. So timeless seemed the grey warm air, so fluid and impersonal his 
own mood, that all ages were as one to him. 

So we arrive at the concrete illustrations of that strange fact already 
noted — that an intense preoccupation with time or ‘duration’ (the 
psychological aspect of time that is) is wedded to the theory of ‘timelessness.’ 

It is, as it were, in its innate confusion in the heart of the reality, the substance 
and original of that peculiar paradox — that so long as time is the capital 
truth of your world it matters very little if you deny time’s existence, like the 
einsteinian, or say there is nothing else at all, like Bergson; or whether space- 
time (with the accent on the time) is your god, like Alexander. For all practical 
purposes you are committed to the same world-view. Practically it will impose 
on you the same psychology; but further than that, if you wished to pursue it, 
you would find that the purely physical theory of Einstein is of such an order 
that, though it sets out to banish the mental factor altogether and to arrive 
at a purely physical truth, it nevertheless cannot prevent itself turning into a 
psychological or spiritual account of things, like Bergson’s. For the mind of 
Einstein, like that of Bergson, or like that of Proust, is not a physical mind, as 
it could be called. It is psychologic; it is mental. 

Beyond this rough preliminary statement it is not possible to go without 
much more elaboration, which I wish to avoid in this part of my essay. But a 
few further observations may be added to the foregoing, further to elucidate, 
upon this plane of discussion, the direction of my analysis, and its object as 
applied to the art-forms I have chosen to consider. 

Most people have seen spirit-drawings — or drawings done, says the 
subject, under the influence of supernatural agencies. Whatever they may be 
like otherwise, they are generally characterized by a certain cloudiness, a misty 
uncertainty. 

The processes of creative genius, however, are not so dissimilar to those 
of the spirit-draughtsman. A great artist falls into a trance of sorts when he 
creates, about that there is little doubt. The act of artistic creation is a trance 
or dream-state-, but very different from that experienced by the entranced 
medium. A world of the most extreme and logically exacting physical 


definition is built up out of this susceptible condition in the case of the 
greatest art, in contrast to the cloudy phantasies of the spiritist. 

It is a good deal as a pictorial and graphic artist that I approach these 
problems; and a method that does not secure that definition and logical 
integrity that, as a graphic artist, I require, I am, I admit, hostile to from 
the start. But no doubt what made me, to begin with, a painter, was some 
propensity for the exactly-defined and also fanatically it may be, the physical 
or the concrete. And I do not think that you have to be a painter to possess 
such inclinations. Many painters, indeed, have no repugnance, it would 
appear, for the surging ecstatic featureless chaos which is being set up as an 
ideal, in place of the noble exactitude and harmonious proposition of the 
european, scientific, ideal — the specifically Western heaven. 

What I am concerned with here, first of all, is not whether the great 
time-philosophy that overshadows all contemporary thought is viable as a 
system of abstract truth, but if in its application it helps or destroys our 
human arts. With that is involved, of course, the very fundamental question 
of whether we should set out to transcend our human condition (As formerly 
Nietzsche and then Bergson claimed that we should); or whether we should 
translate into human terms the whole of our datum. My standpoint is that 
we are creatures of a certain kind, with no indication that a radical change is 
imminent; and that the most pretentious of our present prophets is unable to 
do more than promise ‘an eternity of intoxication’ to those who follow him 
into less physical, more ‘cosmic,’ regions; proposals made with at least equal 
eloquence by the contemporaries of Plato. On the other hand, politically 
it is urged that a-thousand-men is a better man than one, because he is less 
‘conscious’ and is bigger. It seems to me, on the contrary, that the smaller 
you are, the more remarkable. So as far as all that side for the argument is 
concerned — of ecstatic propaganda, of plunges into cosmic streams of flux 
or time, of miraculous baptisms, of the ritual of time-gods, and of breathless 
transformations — I have other views on the subject of attaining perfection. 

I prefer the chaste wisdom of the Chinese or the Greek, to that hot, tawny 
brand of superlative fanaticism coming from the parched deserts of the 
Ancient East, with its ineradicable abstractness. I am for the physical world. 


CONCLUSION TO BOOK I 


I HAVE advanced throughout this essay a carefully constructed body 
of criticism against various contemporary literary and other modes of 
thought and methods of expression. I have chosen for discussion for the 
most part strongly established leaders, of mature talent; and have examined 
individual work in some detail. This hostile analysis in its entirety has been 
founded upon those wider considerations that I shall now at least adumbrate. 

I will revert to a few of the instances chosen and once more pass them 
rapidly in review, in the light of this last and more general phase of my 
argument. Miss Stein I have dealt with at some length, but not because she 
seems to me a writer of any great importance; rather, living comfortably at 
the heart of things, and associated with all the main activities of the time, 
she is a rallying point that it was convenient to take. In her recent pieces her 
attack upon the logical architecture of words is in its result flat and literally 
meaningless, I think. Her attempt to use words as though they were sounds 
purely or ‘sound-symbols,’ or as though their symbolism could be distorted or 
suppressed sufficiently to allow a ‘fugue’ being made out of a few thousand of 
them, is a technical mistake, I believe. It is only doing what the musician has 
been doing for three centuries, but doing it poorly, because the instrument of 
speech on the one hand, and the verbal symbolism on the other, will not, in 
the case of words, yield such a purity of effect. 

Again, Pound seems in somewhat the same difficulty as Miss Stein — lost 
half-way between one art and another. Pound’s desertion of poetry for music 
may mean that music is really his native art; and having been misled early in 
life into the practice of an art in which he had nothing whatever to say, he 
is now painfully attemtping to return to the more fluid abstract medium of 
musical composition. To put it another way, the form of life, the norm, which 
he represents, ‘has nothing to say — reason is not its way of reaching its goal, 
but always sensation. A pure sensational expression is what it naturally clothes 
itself in; it is essentially hostile to the arts of the intellect. It can sue them to 
admiration; but it is usually only in order to betray them to sensation. And 
Miss Stein, like Pound, seems to have a hankering for an art which technically 
she does not possess. 

The psychology of the different arts — of the visual, static arts, of the art of 
pure sound, of literature with its apparatus of intellectual symbolism, and so 
on — has been attended to very little. It may be that as a painter I find it easier 
to be logical and, at least in writing, to remain technically intact, and do not 
make allowance enough for the itch, so often found in the writer, to do a 
little painting in words, or to play the musician. I do not propose to go into 
that question here. But for our present purposes let us imagine a person so 
complexly talented that he could with equal effect express himself in musical 
composition, painting, sculpture or writing — Samuel Butler’s ideal person. 

I think, then, that we should find that the person’s writing would show little 
tendency to divest words of their symbolism, or to distort them, nor to do 


imitational or ‘literary’ music, nor to tell stories in paint. The rather shallow 
‘revolutionism’ that consists in a partial merging of two or more arts would 
be spared him. He would achieve such a complete revolution every time he 
dropped from one of his accomplishments into the other, that he would have 
no incentive to hybrid experiment. He would be the purest possible artist in 
each of his arts. It is even quite possible to affirm that no artist with only one 
art in which to express himself, can keep that one art entirely intact and pure. 

The powerful impressionism of Ulysses, constructed on the most approved 
‘time’-basis — that is, a basis of the fluid material gushing of undisciplined 
life — I have chosen as in some ways the most important creation so far issued 
from the ‘time’ mint. The approved ‘mental’ method — dating from the 
publication of Matiere et Memoire or of the earliest psycho-analytic tracts — 
leads, as it is intended to lead, to a physical disintegration and a formal 
confusion. A highly personal day-dream, culminating in a phantasmagoria 
of the purest dream-order, is the result in Ulysses. It is a masterpiece of 
romantic art: and its romance is of the sort imposed by the ‘time’ philosophy. 
Whimsically, but like much romantic art, it is founded on a framework of 
classical antiquity — about which its author is very romantic indeed. 

But if I had to choose a book that would entirely fill all the requirements, 
as a literary paradigm, for my criticism of the ‘time’-motion school, it would 
not be to Ulysses that I should go. I should go to another literary form 
altogether, namely, history; and I should find in Spengler’s Decline of the West 
my perfect model of what a time-book should be. Of that in the second part 
of this essay I provide an analysis. 

Before closing this part of my essay I will examine for a moment one 
aspect of the literary problem that I have neglected; namely, the politics of 
style, as it might be called. 

In literature it should always be recalled that what we read is the speech 
of some person or other, explicit or otherwise. There is a style and tone in 
any statement, in any collection of sentences. We can formulate this in the 
following way: There is an organic norm to which every form of speech is related. 
A human individual, living a certain kind of life, to whom the words and style 
would be appropriate, is implied in all its utterance. 

A great many writers to-day are affecting, by their style, to be children. 
What is implicit in much of the writing of Miss Stein, and, of course, of 
Miss Loos, is the proposition: ‘I am a child.’ Another ting that is also very 
prevalent is a choice of idiom, and of delivery, that is intended to reassure 
the reader of the mass-democracy that all is well, and that the writer is of the 
crowd; a Plain-Man, just another humble cell in the vast democratic body 
like anybody else; not a detested ‘highbrow.’ This is so much the case that 
occasionally you meet in american papers the remark, in the review of a book, 
that so and so is ‘a gentleman writer.’ This evidently means that a certain 
absence of slavishness, of gleeful and propitiatory handrubbing, of slang, of 
a hundred tricks to put the Democracy at its ease, is absent from the work in 
question. This absence of what is expected of a writer has caused a shock of 


astonishment in the reviewer. He registers his surprise. 

There are as many ways of expressing yourself as there are days in the 
year; there are all the varieties of stammer and maunder of the idiot, there is 
all the range of the ‘quaint’ naivete of childhood; all the crabbed dialects of 
toil, the slang of a hundred different ‘sets’ and occupations, the solecisms and 
parodies of the untaught; there is the pomp of the law and the polish of the 
aristocratic heyday of european letters. There is the style of the code Napoleon, 
which was Stendhal’s model. And in any language is that most lucid, most 
logical rendering of the symbols of speech which people employ when they 
wish to communicate anything as clearly as possible, and are very anxious to 
be understood. The latter is, after all, the best guarantee you can have that 
affectation and self-consciousness will be absent from the style in which you 
are to be addressed. There you get the minimum of fuss or of mannerism. 
When the mind is most active it is least personal, least mannered. 

The psychology at the back of the various styles or modes we have been 
considering is to that extent political, therefore, in that sense that the child- 
cult is a political phenomenon, and without the child-cult men and women 
of letters would not be expressing themselves in the language and with the 
peculiarities of infancy; and certainly ‘journalese’ is as much as the subject- 
matter of a newspaper report, contingent upon the ‘greatest happiness of the 
greatest number.’ It is a perfidious flattery of the multitude, though whether it 
is really appreciated or indeed necessary at all, is open to question. 

A seventeenth-century writer would express himself as a matter of course 
as grandly as he could. He was not afraid of the ‘grand style,’ and more than 
a painter was; he was only concerned perhaps as not being grand enough. No 
figure was too high or too magnificent to accommodate his language. The 
Roman Senate was the sort of assembly he had in his mind’s eye. A Cicero, 
an Aristitdes, an orator of the aristocratic roman or athenian caste, was the 
organ implicitly for which the words were destined. How does Milton write 
his Areopagitica'i This is the way he addresses you — or the ‘civil and gentle 
greatness’ of the Lords and Commons of England: 

I might defend myself with ease, if any should accuse me of being new or insolent, 
did they but know how much better I find ye esteem it to imitate the old and elegant 
humanity of Greece, than the barbaric pride of a Hunnish and Norwegian stateliness. 


That is certainly ‘stately enough, we should say; and we should acquit 
him of being ‘new and insolent’; and any Parliament to-day would be very 
surprised to be addressed in such ‘parliamentary’ language. But it is a very 
curious question indeed to what extent the political atmosphere of the day 
must modify written speech, or even break it up altogether. 

Can language hold out in any degree against politics, when politics are 
so extremely fluid, and, inevitably, so indifferent to the arts engendered in 
words? It would be a pity if we were prevented from communicating lucidly 
and grammatically with each other. There I must leave that question, its 


applications to the work I have been discussing will be immediately apparent. 

For any intelligent European or American the point has certainly been 
reached where he has to summon whatever resolution he may possess and 
make a fundamental decision. Fie has to acquaint himself first of all with 
the theory of, and then decide what is to be his attitude towards, the time- 
cult, which is the master-concept of our day. This essay may, I hope, provide 
him with an adequate conspectus of the positions and source of the issues 
involved; and it has the initial advantage of not being an arbitrary or frivolous 
statement, nor one that can be represented as put forward just in order to be 
‘contrary,’ since it embodies the practical reactions of a worker in one of the 
great intellectual fields, threatened by the ascendancy of such a cult. 


APPENDIX TO BOOK I 


T O build up a critical organism, composed of the most living material 
of observed fact, which could serve as an ally of the new creative 
effort — something like an immense watch-dog trained to secure by its 
presence the fastness of the generally ill-protected theoretic man, guaranteed 
suitably to protect such minds, as cared to avail themselves of it — that was 
the kind of thing I had in mind in starting to write my recent book, The Art 
of Being Ruled. The present volume will show more clearly, I think, at what 
ultimately I was aiming. Critical estimates in the field in which I am mainly 
interested, namely, art, literature and philosophy, it was with them that I was 
concerned. 

In a period of such obsessing political controversy as the present, I believe 
that I am that strange animal, the individual without any ‘politics’ at all. You 
will find neither the politics of Communism nor those of the militant Right 
here. How, then, can I include politics at all in my debate? you may ask. I can 
discuss them only on the ideal plane evidently. In a platonic commonwealth 
I should be a politician, for then politics would be identical with my deepest 
interests. Here they are not. Here I could not be a politician without ceasing 
to be other things which their profession would contradict. 

So any one reading my recent book as a politician would necessarily 
find it ‘inconclusive,’ as he would probably term it. It has been described 
as ‘a hostile analysis of contemporary society,’ which no doubt it is; but its 
‘hostility had no party label. If had, if anything, the badge of an art, but 
not of any political party. But the obligation that obtains for everybody to 
contribute to the general intolerance, and to exercise his right to the most 
violent partisanship possible, is never foregone. Many opposite forms of 
militancy were scornful and offended by my unexpected unpartisan analysis 
of society. 

Whether politicians or not, the affairs of art, literature or science cannot 
be treated by us as though hung somewhere in a state of enchantment, in 
the air. But there is more than that. If you want to know what is actually 
occurring inside, underneath, at the centre, at any given moment, art is a 
truer guide than ‘politics,’ more often than not. Its movements represent, 
in an acuter form, a deeper emotional truth, though not discursively. The 
Brothers Karamazov, for example, is a more cogent document for the history 
of its period than any record of actual events. The parallel political displays, 
too, are only intended for the very simple as things are to-day; whereas the 
art-displays do often provide a little intelligent amusement. 

So if art has a directer access to reality, is truer and less artificial and more 
like what it naturally grows out of, than are politics, it seems a pity that it 
should take its cure from them. The artist is relieved of that obligation of the 
practical man to lie. Why not retain this privilege to be one of the ‘truthful 
ones’ of nietzschean myth? 

Some of the adversaries of my recent book affected to think that I was 


aiming a blow at human freedom in its pages. On the contrary, I was setting 
in a clear light a group of trivial and meaningless liberties, which, in the 
pursuit of their small claims, obstructed freedom — in any sense in which that 
word is worth using. My criticism of ‘democracy,’ again, was of ‘democracy’ as 
that is understood to-day; and it was based on the conviction that democracy 
is neither free, nor permits of freedom. If you must have it, however, it is 
better to organize unfreedom; so you get communism, another very elastic 
term, it appears. 

About a year ago an essay by Mr. Haldane appeared on Gas-Warfare. It 
was an apology for the men of science engaged in the manufacture of poison- 
gas: the idea was that by their efforts they would make ‘the next war’ of such 
a terrible nature that it would ‘end war.’ In The Art of Being Ruled one of 
my objects was to proide a substitute for Mr. Haldane’s method. I thad been 
triumphantly demonstrated, I showed, that these democratic masses could 
be governed without a hitch by suggestion and hypnotism — Press, Wireless, 
Cinema. So what need is there, that was my humane contention, to slaughter 
them? To that argument no answer was given, for there is no answer. The 
chemists and their employers are engaged in a quite gratuitous activity; that I 
consider I have shown. 

In the endeavour to prove my humane thesis I was led to what appeared, 
it seems, a cynical acceptance of the processes I advocated — in preference, 
it was to be understood, to wholesale destruction of our kind. My book was 
described in one quarter as a ‘Bill of Hate’ directed against mankind. What a 
strange misunderstanding! For Mr. Haldane’s essay was everywhere received 
with gratitude, and I have seen no accusation brought against it of the sort 
with which mine was impugned. 

I have somewhat modified my views since I wrote that book as to the best 
procedure for ensuring the true freedom of which I have just spoken. I now 
believe, for instance, that people should be compelled to be freer and more 
‘individualistic’ than they naturally desire to be, rather than that their native 
unfreedom and instinct towards slavery should be encouraged and organized. 

I believe they could with advantage be compelled to remain absolutely 
alone for several hours every day; and a week’s solitary confinement, under 
pleasant conditions (say in mountain scenery), every two months, would be 
an excellent provision. That and other coercive measures of a similar kind, I 
think, would make them much better people. Perhaps this slight change of 
approach will be apparent in the present volume. 

2. To-day everybody without any exception is revolutionary. Some know 
they are, and some do not; that is the only difference. Some, indeed very 
many people, actually believe that they are Tories, for instance. They really 
imagine that. As it is in nobody’s interest, of consequence, to unseal their 
eyes, and let them know themselves for the humdrum conservative little 
revolutionaries they are, they remain undisturbed in that belief. So they stay 
locked in a close embrace with the dullest form of Revolution, convinced all 


the time that they are defending the great and hoary traditions of their race. 

But again, many people who are aware that they are revolutionaries, yet 
have an imperfect notion as to what exactly they are engaged. The following 
summary account may be of assistance to them. 

Revolution is first a technical process; only after that is it a political 
creed or a series of creeds, and of adjunct heresies. The technical aspect of 
Revolution is of capital importance for a thorough understanding of it. 

The obsession of a mechanical betterment, proceeding without ceasing, is 
natural to industrial man; the ‘progress’ of the engineer, the rapid changes 
and improvements of the technique of industry, make it natural for him to 
regard everything in terms of change and improvement, and to think that he 
can apply to himself or to other men the methods proper to machinery. I will 
quote at this point from my elaborate account of this phenomenon in my 
recent book: these words are Marx’s : — 


Modern industry never looks upon and treats the existing form of a process as 
final. The technical basis of that industry is therefore revolutionary, while all earlier 
modes of production were essentially conservative. By means of machinery, chemical 
process, and other methods, it is continually causing changes, not only in the technical 
basis of production, but also in the functions of the labourer, and in the social 
combinations of the labour process. . .it. . .also revolutionizes the division of labour 
within the society and incessantly launches masses of capital and of workpeople form 
one branch of production to another. 

The technical basis of production, the technique of industry, then, the 
engineer and his machine, is the true source of the inevitably ‘revolutionary’ 
conditions subsisting to-day, apart from any political creed. It is the 
opportunist political mind that has seized on these highly favourable 
conditions, merely, to launch and to sustain a creed of political change, 
backfiring in a series of passionate revolts. So it is that every one to-day, 
in everything, is committed to Revolution; all serious politics to-day are 
revolutionary, as all science is revolutionary. 

But, to continue to quote, rather than rewrite these formulae : — 

There are two kinds of revolution — there is permanent revolution, and there is 
an impermanent, spurious, utilitarian variety.... A sorting out or analysis is necessary 
to protect as many people as have the sense to heed these nuances. A great deal of the 
experimental material of art and science, for instance, is independent of any destructive 
function. Reactionary malice or stupidity generally confuses it with the useful but not 
very savoury chemistry of the Apocalypse. 

Will-to-change, induced by rapid evolution of technique, is then what we call 
Revolution, and accept as a political dogma. Nature we attempt to control; but 
regarding ourselves as an impulsive, non-automatic, rational being, a nature that issues 
from us, in the form machinery, is of course above criticism or control. So it is that we 
get the good and the bad in natural science, our new ‘nature,’ merged in one confusiong 
mass. But what we are attempting here is not a definition of Revolution that would be 
acceptable to a hard-worked, hard-headed, fanatical class-warrior, for whom is Marx 
is Mahomet. This is a philosophic statement, not a specialist or technical one. What 


we have to bring out clearly is this: Revolution, to-day, in its most general definition, 
is modern positive science, and the incessant and radical changes involved by that. 
Without science there would be no Revolution, but only revolutions. Another thing to 
which it is necessary to draw attention is this: namely, the very small number of men 
responsible for this immense ferment. A distinguished contemporary man of science has 
just underlined this aspect of the matter as follows : — 

Everywhere the idea that the few thousand, at most, active creative workers in 
science can really be exercising an important influence on the destinies of great nations, 
and that, without these, and the ferment they have introduced, present civilization 
would probably not be different from that of previous epochs, has yet to receive due 
political recognition. 

It will have to wait a long time for that, but the facts are demonstratably 
thus. Poincare, in his Science et Methode, says : — 

It is only necessary to open your eyes in order to see that the achievements of 
industry which have enriched so many practical persons would never have tome to pass 
if those practical persons had been the only kind of men in the world; if they had not, 
that is, been preceded by disinterested madmen (des fous desinteresses) who died poor; 
who never a gave a thought to what was useful; and who, all the same, had a different 
guide than mere caprice. 


What I am trying to show by these remarks is that what we call 
Revolution, whose form is spectacular change of the technique of life, of 
ideas, is not the work of the majority of people, indeed is nothing at all to 
dow with them; and further, is even alien to their instincts, which are entirely 
conservative. From one century to the next they would remain stationary if 
left to themselves. And, again, all the up-to-date, ‘modernist’ afflatus consists 
of catchwords, and is a system of parrot-cries, in the case of the crowd. Even 
so they are vulgarizations, of the coarsest description, of notions inaccessible 
to the majority in their original force and significance. The cheap, socially 
available simulacrum bears little resemblance to the original. And all the great 
inventions reach the crowd in the form of toys (crystal-sets, motor-cars) and 
it is as helpless children that, for the most part, it participates in these stirring 
events. (That it is as children, as resolute and doctrinaire Peter Pans indeed, 
that most people wish to live, is equally true; but that is not here the issue.) 

That a very small number of inventive, creative men are responsible for 
the entire spectacular ferment of the modern world is then the fact. In the 
course of democratic vulgarization, the energy of these discoveries is watered- 
down and adapted to herd-consumption. As fashion — and politically or 
socially ‘revolution’ is itself a fashion — we get the reflections of energies in 
their scope and ultimate implications unguessed at by the majority. 

In an essay entitled Creatures of Habit and Creatures of Change, I have 
elaborated this aspect of matter sufficiently, and will now quote this resume 


In an attempt to get our minds clearer on this matter (namely, that of the reality of 


progress; and how the idea of progress is the rival and opposite of standardless change) 
it will be best to fix our attention on a spectacle with which we are all quite familiar. Let 
us take the spectacle of the alleged progress in social life from day to day, and decade 
to decade. And let us take sex as the most central and characteristic expression of it, 
the life-expression at its plainest. (This Belphegor could at least be the rebus of the 
Demolisher’s and Excavator’s trade.) 

. . .The woman to-day says to herself, ‘My mother was not so free as I should like to 
be. I shall be more free than my mother.’ The daughter will be more ‘free’ than she is, 
and so forth. 

A constant source of simple-hearted amusement on the English Stage or in the 
newspapers — a theme that is of the nature of an institution — is the bewilderment of the 
petrified parent at the dashing slang of the child; her hands in her pockets, for instance, 
the Eton-cropped actress taking the juvenile lead will address her father as a Top or a 
Bean, and the suffocating laughter of the house from roof to pit will ensue. The very 
orchestra will smile. For this theater is full of children, young and old, involved in the 
vas Punchesque joke of the ‘young idea.’ The rougher life reflected don the music-hall 
stage has for generations existed on the latchkey of the young lady of eighteen. Her 
utterances of certain bloodcurdling up-to-date tags (suggesting horrors of premature 
intimacy) are the stock-in-trade of those who cater for the widest english middle-class 
audience. 

Here the ‘progress’ implied is always a progress towards the shaking-off of a 
parental control or inherited religious compulsion; and in a tremendously wise, cool, 
insouciant, slangy and rather wicked state of ‘modern’ up-to-dateness, unashamed 
nakedness, sweet ‘scientific’ reasonableness, removing all veils, fig-leaves and fusty 
obstructions, a weakest-go-to-the-wall, healthy middle-class, animal Utopia is predicted. 
The modernist mother, with a perhaps ungraceful shoppiness, introduces her child of 
eight or ten to the chamber of horrors of sex with both pride and delight. The fact that 
she herself is the chamber of horrors out of which they have popped adds a picquancy to 
the demonstration. 


So the only true ‘revolutionary’ is in the melodramatic or political 
sense not a revolutionary at all. He is to be sought in those quarters where 
the shocks originate, with those who make Revolution, in all its phases, 
possible; stimulating with subversive discoveries the rest of the world, and 
persuading it to move a little.. The man-of-science could certainly exclaim, 

I am Revolution! If when it moves, it moves violently and clumsily and 
destroys itself, that is certainly its own doing and not his. But the change 
effected upon the social plane, with a wealth of cackling and portentous 
self-congratulation, is neither what interests the mind of Revolution, nor yet 
the political directorate, naturally. Neither it, nor yet the current doctrines 
of social reform or economic class-war, bear much relation, either in the 
magnitude or intensity, to the forces released at the fountainhead. 

The legislation, again, that is stimulated by scientific advance is, like the 
surface-movements of the social life, by no means always the true reflection of 
the thing from which it derives. Sir Henry Maine defined this very well, and I 
cannot do better than quote him : — 

It is quite true that, if Progress be understood with its only intelligible meaning, 
that is, as the continued production of new ideas, scientific invention and scientific 
discovery are the great and perennial sources of these ideas. Every fresh conquest of 


Nature by man. . .generates a number of new ideas. . . (But) experience shows that 
innovating legislation is connected not so much with Science as with the scientific air 
which certain subjects, not capable of exact scientific treatment, from time to time 
assume. 

Sir Henry Maine noticed, in short, at the time he wrote his Popular 
Government, that revolutionary legislation usually arose on the plane of 
vulgarization, where common things are coloured with Science; and not 
where Science is made, that is where the impulse originates. 

If we turn to art, we find that experiment in the arts, or revolutionary 
experiment, if that word is desired, has almost ceased since the War. By 
experiment I mean not only technical exercises and novel combinations, but 
also the essentially new and particular mind that must underlie, and should 
even precede, the new and particular form, to make it viable. 

Very few people, it is probable, belong other than quite superficially to 
what is ‘new’ in present life. It is very with it, rather than the thing itself, 
which attracts them. If you take a new popular art-form like jazz, it is 
doubtful if the majority of English-people or Frenchmen, if they had dozen 
other forms — from the Viennese waltz to the hornpipe, breton gavotte, or 
sardana — would choose it rather than the others. The same people would 
take to any of the forms just as readily, that is what I mean; not that, 
once it is there, they do not enjoy it. A few musicians and artists are more 
fundamentally attracted to it, and to similar new forms (or new at all events 
to the European); but the dancing mass conforms, because jazz is there, being 
exclusively supplied to it, and because it has had the advertisement to start 
with of a novel and experimental fashion in music. 

It would be possible, of course, to go much farther than this, and to say 
that the average European or American is fond of jazz, for instance, because 
of its strangeness; that it is only as a sort of permanent novelty, as it were, that 
such a musical form (so out of key, or out of time, with the rest of his beliefs 
and habits, inherited through many generations) can exist. 

3. Whereas it is generally Industry that betrays and distorts scientific 
invention in the course of its exploitation, it is usually in the distorting 
medium of social life that artistic invention is falsified. When a great creation 
or invention of art makes its appearance, usually a short sharp struggle 
ensues. The social organism is put on its metal. If it is impossible quite to 
overcome the work in question, it is (After the short sharp struggle) accepted. 
Its canonization is the manner of its martyrdom. It is at all events robbed 
of its effect by a verbal acquiescence and a little crop of course imitations. 
Nothing really ugly or powerful, in most instances, has been at all disturbed. 

All the revolutionary idealism of the European has by this time suffered 
the same dilution, and, not canonization, but promotion to the status of an 
eminently respectable, millionaire article. In the millionaire, and progressive 
middle-class, Atlantic World, the general temper of revolutionary change 


has already been thoroughly absorbed. This has very curious results. The 
phenomenon of the ‘revolutionary rich,’ of a gilded Bohemia whose members 
disport themselves as though they were already in the Millennium — as, 
indeed, as far as they are concerned, they are — makes its appearance. I cannot 
here provide a substitute for the very detailed analysis of these things that I 
have given elsewhere. But I can briefly sketch the more salient features.’ 

All the ‘smart-set’ life of any Western capital to-day is a kind of Trianon 
existence, passed in the midst of a fabulous private luxury, the traditional 
‘bohemian’ manners of the poor artist borrowed — along with the term 
‘bohemian’ — to cover the glimpses the man-in-the-street may have of this 
excess. What a picturesque necessity for the needy members of Miirger’s sub- 
world of art, irresponsible freedom of the revolutionary rich of to-day. Thus 
when some magnate in mufti (he is possibly a labour-member in ‘real’ life, or 
he may be an armament magnifico) is observed with a brilliant party issuing 
from a Rolls-Royce, and making for one of those ‘quiet little bohemian 
restaurants’ which are at least twice as expensive as the Ritz, it is not as a 
magnate or a ‘swell,’ at all, but as a mere ‘bohemian,’ that he is regarded by 
Mr. Citizen gaping at this lucky dog (an artist probably, thinks he, probably 
like one of those ‘artists’ on the film, in a velvet jacket, palette in hand, in 
some semi-asiatic palace, the most expensive screen-star in America posing 
upon the sumptuous heavily-upholstered ‘throne’). And indeed Mr. Citizen 
would not be so entirely wrong; for any studio that is big enough to paint 
in is occupied by a millionaire, or by some member of this new tribe of 
debonair, millennial, bohemian magnates. What has happened to art and its 
practitioners it is unnecessary even to inquire. 

This situation, which I have so hastily outlined, is, of course, a dream- 
come-true. It is a pity that some of the dreamers cannot return to witness it. It 
is (on a relatively small scale) the William Morris’, tolstoyan, or other utopist 
dream of a millennium in which no one would have to work too much; and 
in which every one would be an ‘artist’ — singing, painting, composing, or 
writing, as the case might be, and in which a light-hearted ‘communism’ 
should reign in the midst of an idyllic plenty. This has to-day been achieved 
by a section of the community, as I have indicated. In their political opinions 
these people are all, without exception, orthodoxly ‘revolutionary’ or ‘radical.’ 
Several even have become militant socialists. Others are dramatists, others 
‘great painters,’ or ‘great composers,’ many act or dance professionally, or are 
keepers of luxury-shops. Wistfully, but, oh, so bravely! they exclaim, Times 
have changed, we must all do something! And, of course, a great many people 
still possess the means required for such ‘little socialist experiments,’ as open 
of these pathetic people described what he was doing — for this thrilling type 
of idyllic work, the necessary capital to return to the Feudal Age as a romantic 
‘craftsman,’ even if that return cannot be effected in the role of chatelain. 

What results from this situation is, of course, that the audience, in the 
widest sense, becomes professional, or, worse, semi-professional (whatever 
may happen upon the stage), and the employer turns into a rival of his 


employee. The argument for ‘amateurism’ of any kind is that ‘professionalism’ 
is the drabbest, most mechanical and sordid affair; which, of course, is true; 
as it is true that most ‘professionals’ are incompetent, untalented, hacks. 

But that is a one-sided argument; the assumption at this point always is 
that the amateur is a fresh, capricious and carefully-sheltered plant, and as 
such is relieved of the distorting necessities that dog the professional. So, 
romantically, all amateurs tend to become, for the sentimental utopian 
enthusiast of ‘amateurism,’ a kind of gifted eternal-child, their naivete never 
blemished by that odious ‘power’ that knowledge brings or by dark necessities 
of a bread-and-butter order. The truth is very different from that. Almost 
without exception the amateur in real life — not in utopian theory — is an 
imitation-professional. If he is not that, he is a faux-naif of the most blood- 
curdling description. There are no more true nai'fs among amateurs than 
among professionals. 

But it is the results and not the causes that we are concerned with 
here. And the proof of that millennial pudding that we have eaten is 
there for everybody to observe, in the world of art at least. The merging 
of the spectator and the performer — for that is the technical definition of 
amateurism in its wildest implication — can scarcely be expected in art or 
social life to have a more satisfactory upshot than the same process applied in 
politics or industry. 

But as we look around us, and observe the rich bohemianism in which 
all social power is concentrated to-day, we should recognize that we are 
in the presence of an installment of the millennium, in full-flower, That 
privilege should be made the fullest use of, and we should draw the necessary 
conclusions. Our opportunity for practical first-hand observation is a unique 
one.